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COPYRIGHT     1929 
BY    ALFRED     A.     KNOPF,     INC 


IN     THE     UNITED    STATES    OF 




PUBLISHED     APRIL,     1929 


Carl  Van  Vechten 


Fania  Marinoff 

(Jne  three  centuries  removed 
From  the  scenes  his  fathers  loved, 
Spicy  grovey  cinnamon  tree, 
What  is  Africa  to  me? 

— Countee  Cullen 


PART        ONE 

PART        TWO 



PART        THREE 





It  was  the  last  letter  in  Irene  Redfield's  little 
pile  of  morning  mail.  After  her  other  ordinary 
and  clearly  directed  letters  the  long  envelope 
of  thin  Italian  paper  with  its  almost  illegible 
scrawl  seemed  out  of  place  and  alien.  And  there 
was,  too,  something  mysterious  and  slightly  fur- 
tive about  it.  A  thin  sly  thing  which  bore  no 
return  address  to  betray  the  sender.  Not  that 
she  hadn't  immediately  known  who  its  sender 
was.  Some  two  years  ago  she  had  one  very  like 
it  in  outward  appearance.  Furtive,  but  yet  in 
some  peculiar,  determined  way  a  little  flaunt- 
ing. Purple  ink.  Foreign  paper  of  extraordinary 

It  had  been,  Irene  noted,  postmarked  in 
New  York  the  day  before.  Her  brows  came  to- 
gether in  a  tiny  frown.  The  frown,  however, 
was  more  from  perplexity  than  from  annoy- 
ance; though  there  was  in  her  thoughts  an  ele- 
ment of  both.  She  was  wholly  unable  to  compre- 



hend  such  an  attitude  towards  danger  as  she  was 
sure  the  letter's  contents  would  reveal;  and  she 
disliked  the  idea  of  opening  and  reading  it. 

This,  she  reflected,  was  of  a  piece  with 
all  that  she  knew  of  Clare  Kendry.  Stepping  al- 
ways on  the  edge  of  danger.  Always  aware,  but 
not  drawing  back  or  turning  aside.  Certainly 
not  because  of  any  alarms  or  feeling  of  outrage 
on  the  part  of  others. 

And  for  a  swift  moment  Irene  Redfield 
seemed  to  see  a  pale  small  girl  sitting  on  a 
ragged  blue  sofa,  sewing  pieces  of  bright  red 
cloth  together,  while  her  drunken  father,  a 
tall,  powerfully  built  man,  raged  threateningly 
up  and  down  the  shabby  room,  bellowing 
curses  and  making  spasmodic  lunges  at  her 
which  were  not  the  less  frightening  because 
they  were,  for  the  most  part.  Ineffectual.  Some- 
times he  did  manage  to  reach  her.  But  only 
the  fact  that  the  child  had  edged  herself  and 
her  poor  sewing  over  to  the  farthermost  cor- 
ner of  the  sofa  suggested  that  she  was  in  any 
way  perturbed  by  this  menace  to  herself  and 
her  work. 


Clare  had  known  well  enough  that  it 
was  unsafe  to  take  a  portion  of  the  dollar  that 
was  her  weekly  wage  for  the  doing  of  many 
errands  for  the  dressmaker  who  lived  on  the 
top  floor  of  the  building  of  which  Bob  Kendry 
was  janitor.  But  that  knowledge  had  not  de- 
terred her.  She  wanted  to  go  to  her  Sunday 
school's  picnic,  and  she  had  made  up  her  mind 
to  wear  a  new  dress.  So,  In  spite  of  certain  un- 
pleasantness and  possible  danger,  she  had 
taken  the  money  to  buy  the  material  for  that 
pathetic  little  red  frock. 

There  had  been,  even  In  those  days, 
nothing  sacrificial  In  Clare  Kendry's  Idea  of 
life,  no  allegiance  beyond  her  own  Immediate 
desire.  She  was  selfish,  and  cold,  and  hard.  And 
yet  she  had,  too,  a  strange  capacity  of  trans- 
forming warmth  and  passion,  verging  some- 
times almost  on  theatrical  heroics. 

Irene,  who  was  a  year  or  more  older 
than  Clare,  remembered  the  day  that  Bob  Ken- 
dry  had  been  brought  home  dead,  killed  in 
a  silly  saloon-fight.  Clare,  who  was  at  that 
time  a  scant  fifteen  years  old,  had  just  stood 



there  with  her  lips  pressed  together,  her  thin 
arms  folded  across  her  narrow  chest,  staring 
down  at  the  familiar  pasty-white  face  of  her 
parent  with  a  sort  of  disdain  in  her  slanting 
black  eyes.  For  a  very  long  time  she  had  stood 
like  that,  silent  and  staring.  Then,  quite  sud- 
denly, she  had  given  way  to  a  torrent  of  weep- 
ing, swaying  her  thin  body,  tearing  at  her 
bright  hair,  and  stamping  her  small  feet.  The 
outburst  had  ceased  as  suddenly  as  it  had  be- 
gun. She  glanced  quickly  about  the  bare  room, 
taking  everyone  in,  even  the  two  policemen,  in 
a  sharp  look  of  flashing  scorn.  And,  in  the  next 
instant,  she  had  turned  and  vanished  through 
the  door. 

Seen  across  the  long  stretch  of  years, 
the  thing  had  more  the  appearance  of  an  out- 
pouring of  pent-up  fury  than  of  an  overflow  of 
grief  for  her  dead  father;  though  she  had  been, 
Irene  admitted,  fond  enough  of  him  In  her  own 
rather  catlike  way. 

Catlike.  Certainly  that  was  the  word 
which  best  described  Clare  Kendry,  if  any  sin- 
gle word  could   describe  her.  pometlmes  she 



was  hard  and  apparently  without  feeling  at  all; 
sometimes  she  was  affectionate  and  rashly  Im- 
pulsive. And  there  was  about  her  an  amazing 
soft  malice,  hidden  well  away  until  provoked. 
Then  she  was  capable  of  scratching,  and  very 
effectively  too.  Or,  driven  to  anger,  she  would 
fight  with  a  ferocity  and  impetuousness  that 
disregarded  or  forgot  any  danger;  superior 
strength,  numbers,  or  other  unfavourable  cir- 
cumstances. How  savagely  she  had  clawed 
those  boys  the  day  they  had  hooted  her  parent 
and  sung  a  derisive  rhyme,  of  their  own  com- 
posing, which  pointed  out  certain  eccentricities 
in  his  careening  gait!  And  how  deliberately 
she  had — 

Irene  brought  her  thoughts  back  to  the 
present,  to  the  letter  from  Clare  Kendry  that 
she  still  held  unopened  in  her  hand.  With  a  lit- 
tle feeling  of  apprehension,  she  very  slowly  cut 
the  envelope,  drew  out  the  folded  sheets,  spread 
them,  and  began  to  read. 

It  was,  she  saw  at  once,  what  she  had 
expected  since  learning  from  the  postmark 
that  Clare  was  in  the  city.  An  extravagantly 



phrased  wish  to  see  her  again.  Well,  she 
needn't  and  wouldn't,  Irene  told  herself,  ac- 
cede to  that.  Nor  would  she  assist  Clare  to 
realize  her  foolish  desire  to  return  for  a  mo- 
ment to  that  life  which  long  ago,  and  of  her 
own  choice,  she  had  left  behind  her. 

She  ran  through  the  letter,  puzzling 
out,  as  best  she  could,  the  carelessly  formed 
words  or  making  instinctive  guesses  at  them. 

".  .  .  For  I  am  lonely,  so  lonely  .  .  . 
cannot  help  longing  to  be  with  you  again,  as  I 
have  never  longed  for  anything  before;  and  I 
have  wanted  many  things  in  my  life.  .  .  .  You 
can't  know  how  in  this  pale  life  of  mine  I  am 
all  the  time  seeing  the  bright  pictures  of  that 
other  that  I  once  thought  I  was  glad  to  be  free 
of.  .  .  .  It's  like  an  ache,  a  pain  that  never 
ceases.  .  .  ."  Sheets  upon  thin  sheets  of  it. 
And  ending  finally  with,  "and  it's  your  fault, 
'Rene  dear.  At  least  partly.  For  I  wouldn't 
now,  perhaps,  have  this  terrible,  this  wild  de- 
sire if  I  hadn't  seen  you  that  time  in  Chi- 
cago. .  .  ." 



Brilliant  red  patches  flamed  in  Irene 
Redfield's  warm  olive  cheeks. 

"That  time  in  Chicago."  The  words 
stood  out  from  among  the  many  paragraphs  of 
other  words,  bringing  with  them  a  clear,  sharp 
remembrance,  in  which  even  now,  after  two 
years,  humiliation,  resentment,  and  rage  were 


This  is  what  Irene  Redfield  remembered. 

Chicago.  August.  A  brilliant  day,  hot, 
with  a  brutal  staring  sun  pouring  down  rays 
that  were  like  molten  rain.  A  day  on  which  the 
very  outlines  of  the  buildings  shuddered  as  if 
In  protest  at  the  heat.  Quivering  lines  sprang 
up  from  baked  pavements  and  wriggled  along 
the  shining  car-tracks.  The  automobiles  parked 
at  the  kerbs  were  a  dancing  blaze,  and  the 
glass  of  the  shop-windows  threw  out  a  blind- 
ing radiance.  Sharp  particles  of  dust  rose  from 
the  burning  sidewalks,  stinging  the  seared  or 
dripping  skins  of  wilting  pedestrians.  What 
small  breeze  there  was  seemed  like  the  breath 
of  a  flame  fanned  by  slow  bellows. 

It  was  on  that  day  of  all  others  that 
Irene  set  out  to  shop  for  the  things  which 
she  had  promised  to  take  home  from  Chicago 
to  her  two  small  sons,  Brian  junior  and  Theo- 
dore. Characteristically,  she  had  put  it  off  un- 



til  only  a  few  crowded  days  remained  of  her 
long  visit.  And  only  this  sweltering  one  was 
free  of  engagements  till  the  evening. 

Without  too  much  trouble  she  had  got 
the  mechanical  aeroplane  for  Junior.  But  the 
drawing-book,  for  which  Ted  had  so  gravely 
and  insistently  given  her  precise  directions,  had 
sent  her  in  and  out  of  five  shops  without  suc- 

It  was  while  she  was  on  her  way  to  a 
sixth  place  that  right  before  her  smarting  eyes 
a  man  toppled  over  and  became  an  inert 
crumpled  heap  on  the  scorching  cement.  About 
the  lifeless  figure  a  little  crowd  gathered.  Was 
the  man  dead,  or  only  faint?  someone  asked 
her.  But  Irene  didn't  know  and  didn't  try  to 
discover.  She  edged  her  way  out  of  the  increas- 
ing crowd,  feeling  disagreeably  damp  and 
sticky  and  soiled  from  contact  with  so  many 
sweating  bodies. 

For  a  moment  she  stood  fanning  her- 
self and  dabbing  at  her  moist  face  with  an  In- 
adequate scrap  of  handkerchief.  Suddenly  she 
was  aware  that  the  whole  street  had  a  wobbly 



look,  and  realized  that  she  was  about  to  faint. 
With  a  quick  perception  of  the  need  for  Im- 
mediate safety,  she  lifted  a  wavering  hand  In 
the  direction  of  a  cab  parked  directly  In  front 
of  her.  The  perspiring  driver  jumped  out  and 
guided  her  to  his  car.  He  helped,  almost  lifted 
her  In.  She  sank  down  on  the  hot  leather  seat. 

For  a  minute  her  thoughts  were  neb- 
ulous. They  cleared. 

*^I  guess,'*  she  told  her  Samaritan,  "It's 
tea  I  need.  On  a  roof  somewhere." 

"The  Drayton,  ma'am?"  he  suggested. 
"They  do  say  as  how  it's  always  a  breeze  up 

"Thank  you.  I  think  the  Drayton'll  do 
nicely,"  she  told  him. 

There  was  that  little  grating  sound  of 
the  clutch  being  slipped  in  as  the  man  put 
the  car  in  gear  and  slid  deftly  out  into  the  boil- 
ing traffic.  Reviving  under  the  warm  breeze 
stirred  up  by  the  moving  cab,  Irene  made  some 
small  attempts  to  repair  the  damage  that  the 
heat  and  crowds  had  done  to  her  appear- 



All  too  soon  the  rattling  vehicle  shot 
towards  the  sidewalk  and  stood  still.  The 
driver  sprang  out  and  opened  the  door  before 
the  hotel's  decorated  attendant  could  reach  It. 
She  got  out,  and  thanking  him  smilingly  as  well 
as  in  a  more  substantial  manner  for  his  kind 
helpfulness  and  understanding,  went  In  through 
the  Drayton's  wide  doors. 

Stepping  out  of  the  elevator  that  had 
brought  her  to  the  roof,  she  was  led  to  a  table 
just  In  front  of  a  long  window  whose  gently 
moving  curtains  suggested  a  cool  breeze.  It 
was,  she  thought,  like  being  wafted  upward  on 
a  magic  carpet  to  another  world,  pleasant, 
quiet,  and  strangely  remote  from  the  sizzling 
one  that  she  had  left  below. 

The  tea,  when  it  came,  was  all  that 
she  had  desired  and  expected.  In  fact,  so  much 
was  it  what  she  had  desired  and  expected  that 
after  the  first  deep  cooling  drink  she  was  able 
to  forget  It,  only  now  and  then  sipping,  a  little 
absently,  from  the  tall  green  glass,  while  she 
surveyed  the  room  about  her  or  looked  out 
over  some  lower  buildings  at  the  bright  un- 



Stirred  blue  of  the  lake  reaching  away  to  an 
undetected  horizon. 

She  had  been  gazing  down  for  some 
time  at  the  specks  of  cars  and  people  creeping 
about  in  streets,  and  thinking  how  silly  they 
looked,  when  on  taking  up  her  glass  she  was 
surprised  to  find  it  empty  at  last.  She  asked 
for  more  tea  and  while  she  waited,  began  to  re- 
call the  happenings  of  the  day  and  to  wonder 
what  she  was  to  do  about  Ted  and  his  book. 
Why  was  it  that  almost  invariably  he  wanted 
something  that  was  difficult  or  impossible  to 
get?  Like  his  father.  For  ever  wanting  some- 
thing that  he  couldn't  have. 

Presently  there  were  voices,  a  man's 
booming  one  and  a  woman's  slightly  husky.  A 
waiter  passed  her,  followed  by  a  sweetly 
scented  woman  in  a  fluttering  dress  of  green 
chifi^on  whose  mingled  pattern  of  narcissuses, 
jonquils,  and  hyacinths  was  a  reminder  of  pleas- 
antly chill  spring  days.  Behind  her  there  was 
a  man,  very  red  In  the  face,  who  was  mopping 
his  neck  and  forehead  with  a  big  crumpled 



"Oh  dear  I"  Irene  groaned,  rasped  by 
annoyance,  for  after  a  little  discussion  and  com- 
motion they  had  stopped  at  the  very  next  table. 
She  had  been  alone  there  at  the  window  and 
It  had  been  so  satisfylngly  quiet.  Now,  of 
course,  they  would  chatter. 

But  no.  Only  the  woman  sat  down.  The 
man  remained  standing,  abstractedly  pinching 
the  knot  of  his  bright  blue  tie.  Across  the  small 
space  that  separated  the  two  tables  his  voice 
carried  clearly. 

"See  you  later,  then,"  he  declared,  look- 
ing down  at  the  woman.  There  was  pleasure 
in  his  tones  and  a  smile  on  his  face. 

His  companion's  lips  parted  In  some 
answer,  but  her  words  were  blurred  by  the 
little  intervening  distance  and  the  medley  of 
noises  floating  up  from  the  streets  below.  They 
didn't  reach  Irene.  But  she  noted  the  peculiar 
caressing  smile  that  accompanied  them. 

The  man  said:  "Well,  I  suppose  I'd 
better,"  and  smiled  again,  and  said  good-bye, 
and  left. 

An     attractive-looking     woman,     was 



Irene's  opinion,  with  those  dark,  almost  black, 
eyes  and  that  wide  mouth  like  a  scarlet  flower 
against  the  Ivory  of  her  skin.  Nice  clothes  too, 
just  right  for  the  weather,  thin  and  cool  with- 
out being  mussy,  as  summer  things  were  so 
apt  to  be. 

A  waiter  was  taking  her  order.  Irene 
saw  her  smile  up  at  him  as  she  murmured  some- 
thing— thanks,  maybe.  It  was  an  odd  sort  of 
smile.  Irene  couldn't  quite  define  it,  but  she 
was  sure  that  she  would  have  classed  It,  com- 
ing from  another  woman,  as  being  just  a  shade 
too  provocative  for  a  waiter.  About  this  one, 
however,  there  was  something  that  made  her 
hesitate  to  name  It  that.  A  certain  impression 
of  assurance,  perhaps. 

The  waiter  came  back  with  the  order. 
Irene  watched  her  spread  out  her  napkin,  saw 
the  silver  spoon  in  the  white  hand  slit  the  dull 
gold  of  the  melon.  Then,  conscious  that  she  had 
been  staring,  she  looked  quickly  away. 

Her  mind  returned  to  her  own  affairs. 
She  had  settled,  definitely,  the  problem  of  the 
proper  one  of  two  frocks  for  the  bridge  party 



that  night,  In  rooms  whose  atmosphere  would 
be  so  thick  and  hot  that  every  breath  would  be 
like  breathing  soup.  The  dress  decided,  her 
thoughts  had  gone  back  to  the  snag  of  Ted's 
book,  her  unseeing  eyes  far  away  on  the  lake, 
when  by  some  sixth  sense  she  was  acutely 
aware  that  someone  was  watching  her. 

Very  slowly  she  looked  around,  and 
into  the  dark  eyes  of  the  woman  In  the  green 
frock  at  the  next  table.  But  she  evidently  failed 
to  realize  that  such  intense  interest  as  she  was 
showing  might  be  embarrassing,  and  continued 
to  stare.  Her  demeanour  was  that  of  one  who 
with  utmost  singleness  of  mind  and  purpose 
was  determined  to  impress  firmly  and  accu- 
rately each  detail  of  Irene's  features  upon  her 
memory  for  all  time,  nor  showed  the  slightest 
trace  of  disconcertment  at  having  been  detected 
in  her  steady  scrutiny. 

Instead,  it  was  Irene  who  was  put  out. 
Feeling  her  colour  heighten  under  the  continued 
Inspection,  she  slid  her  eyes  down.  What,  she 
wondered,  could  be  the  reason  for  such  per- 
sistent attention?  Had  she.  In  her  haste  In  the 



taxi,  put  her  hat  on  backwards?  Guardedly  she 
felt  at  it.  No.  Perhaps  there  was  a  streak  of 
powder  somewhere  on  her  face.  She  made  a 
quick  pass  over  it  with  her  handkerchief.  Some- 
thing wrong  with  her  dress?  She  shot  a  glance 
over  it.  Perfectly  all  right.  What  was  it? 

Again  she  looked  up,  and  for  a  mo- 
ment her  brown  eyes  politely  returned  the 
stare  of  the  other's  black  ones,  which  never 
for  an  instant  fell  or  wavered.  Irene  made  a 
little  mental  shrug.  Oh  well,  let  her  look!  She 
tried  to  treat  the  woman  and  her  watching 
with  indifference,  but  she  couldn't.  All  her  ef- 
forts to  ignore  her,  it,  were  futile.  She  stole 
another  glance.  Still  looking.  What  strange 
languorous  eyes  she  had! 

And  gradually  there  rose  in  Irene  a 
small  inner  disturbance,  odious  and  hatefully 
familiar.  She  laughed  softly,  but  her  eyes 

Did  that  woman,  could  that  woman, 
somehow  know  that  here  before  her  very  eyes 
on  the  roof  of  the  Drayton  sat  a  Negro? 

Absurd!  Impossible!  White  people  were 


SO  stupid  about  such  things  for  all  that  they 
usually  asserted  that  they  were  able  to  tell;  and 
by  the  most  ridiculous  means,  finger-nails, 
palms  of  hands,  shapes  of  ears,  teeth,  and 
other  equally  silly  rot.  They  always  took  her 
for  an  Italian,  a  Spaniard,  a  Mexican,  or  a 
gipsy.  Never,  when  she  was  alone,  had  they 
even  remotely  seemed  to  suspect  that  she  was  a 
Negro.  No,  the  woman  sitting  there  staring  at 
her  couldn't  possibly  know. 

Nevertheless,  Irene  felt,  in  turn,  anger, 
scorn,  and  fear  slide  over  her.  It  wasn't  that 
she  was  ashamed  of  being  a  Negro,  or  even  of 
having  it  declared.  It  was  the  idea  of  being 
ejected  from  any  place,  even  in  the  polite  and 
tactful  way  in  which  the  Drayton  would  prob- 
ably do  it,  that  disturbed  her. 

But  she  looked,  boldly  this  time,  back 
into  the  eyes  still  frankly  intent  upon  her. 
They  did  not  seem  to  her  hostile  or  resentful. 
Rather,  Irene  had  the  feeling  that  they  were 
ready  to  smile  if  she  would.  Nonsense,  of 
course.  The  feeling  passed,  and  she  turned 
away  with  the  firm  intention  of  keeping  her 



gaze  on  the  lake,  the  roofs  of  the  buildings 
across  the  way,  the  sky,  anywhere  but  on  that 
annoying  woman.  Almost  immediately,  how- 
ever, her  eyes  were  back  again.  In  the  midst  of 
her  fog  of  uneasiness  she  had  been  seized  by  a 
desire  to  outstare  the  rude  observer.  Suppose 
the  woman  did  know  or  suspect  her  race.  She 
couldn't  prove  it. 

Suddenly  her  small  fright  Increased. 
Her  neighbour  had  risen  and  was  coming 
towards  her.  What  was  going  to  happen  now? 

"Pardon  me,"  the  woman  said  pleas- 
antly, *'but  I  think  I  know  you."  Her  slightly 
husky  voice  held  a  dubious  note. 

Looking  up  at  her,  Irene's  suspicions 
and  fears  vanished.  There  was  no  mistaking 
the  friendliness  of  that  smile  or  resisting  Its 
charm.  Instantly  she  surrendered  to  it  and 
smiled  too,  as  she  said:  "I'm  afraid  you're  mis- 

"Why,  of  course,  I  know  you !"  the 
other  exclaimed.  "Don't  tell  me  you're  not 
Irene  Westover.  Or  do  they  still  call  you 



In  the  brief  second  before  her  answer, 
Irene  tried  vainly  to  recall  where  and  when 
this  woman  could  have  known  her.  There,  in 
Chicago.  And  before  her  marriage.  That  much 
was  plain.  High  school?  College?  Y.  W.  C.  A. 
committees?  High  school,  most  likely.  What 
white  girls  had  she  known  well  enough  to  have 
been  familiarly  addressed  as  'Rene  by  them? 
The  woman  before  her  didn't  fit  her  memory 
of  any  of  them.  Who  was  she? 

"Yes,  I'm  Irene  Westover.  And  though 
nobody  calls  me  'Rene  any  more,  it's  good  to 
hear  the  name  again.  And  you — "  She  hesi- 
tated, ashamed  that  she  could  not  remember, 
and  hoping  that  the  sentence  would  be  finished 
for  her. 

"Don't  .you  know  me?  Not  really, 

"I'm  sorry,  but  just  at  the  minute  I 
can't  seem  to  place  you." 

Irene  studied  the  lovely  creature  stand- 
ing beside  her  for  some  clue  to  her  identity. 
Who  could  she  be?  Where  and  when  had  they 
met?  And  through  her  perplexity  there  came 



the  thought  that  the  trick  which  her  memory 
had  played  her  was  for  some  reason  more 
gratifying  than  disappointing  to  her  old  ac- 
quaintance, that  she  didn't  mind  not  being 

And,  too,  Irene  felt  that  she  was  just 
about  to  remember  her.  For  about  the  woman 
was  some  quality,  an  intangible  something,  too 
vague  to  define,  too  remote  to  seize,  but  which 
was,  to  Irene  Redfield,  very  familiar.  And  that 
voice.  Surely  she'd  heard  those  husky  tones 
somewhere  before.  Perhaps  before  time,  con- 
tact, or  something  had  been  at  them,  making 
them  into  a  voice  remotely  suggesting  England. 
Ah !  Could  it  have  been  in  Europe  that  they 
had  met?  'Rene.  No. 

"Perhaps,"  Irene  began,  "you — " 

The  woman  laughed,  a  lovely  laugh,  a 
small  sequence  of  notes  that  was  like  a  trill  and 
also  like  the  ringing  of  a  delicate  bell  fashioned 
of  a  precious  metal,  a  tinkling. 

Irene  drew  a  quick  sharp  breath. 
"Clare!"  she  exclaimed,  "not  really  Clare 



So  great  was  her  astonishment  that  she 
had  started  to  rise. 

^'No,  no,  don't  get  up,"  Clare  Kendry 
commanded,  and  sat  down  herself.  "You've 
simply  got  to  stay  and  talk.  We'll  have  some- 
thing more.  Tea  ?  Fancy  meeting  you  here !  It's 
simply  too,  too  lucky!" 

*'It's  awfully  surprising,"  Irene  told 
her,  and,  seeing  the  change  In  Clare's  smile, 
knew  that  she  had  revealed  a  corner  of  her 
own  thoughts.  But  she  only  said:  "I'd  never 
In  this  world  have  known  you  If  you  hadn't 
laughed.  You  are  changed,  you  know.  And  yet, 
in  a  way,  you're  just  the  same." 

"Perhaps,"  Clare  replied.  "Oh,  just  a 

She  gave  her  attention  to  the  waiter 
at  her  side.  "M-mm,  let's  see.  Two  teas.  And 
bring  some  cigarettes.  Y-es,  they'll  be  all  right. 
Thanks."  Again  that  odd  upward  smile.  Now, 
Irene  was  sure  that  it  was  too  provocative  for 
a  waiter. 

While  Clare  had  been  giving  the  order, 
Irene  made  a  rapid  mental  calculation.  It  must 



be,  she  figured,  all  of  twelve  years  since  she, 
or  anybody  that  she  knew,  had  laid  eyes  on 
Clare  Kendry. 

After  her  father's  death  she'd  gone  to 
live  with  some  relatives,  aunts  or  cousins  two  or 
three  times  removed,  over  on  the  west  side : 
relatives  that  nobody  had  known  the  Kendry's 
possessed  until  they  had  turned  up  at  the  fu- 
neral and  taken  Clare  away  with  them. 

For  about  a  year  or  more  afterwards 
she  would  appear  occasionally  among  her  old 
friends  and  acquaintances  on  the  south  side  for 
short  little  visits  that  were,  they  understood, 
always  stolen  from  the  endless  domestic  tasks 
in  her  new  home.  With  each  succeeding  one 
she  was  taller,  shabbier,  and  more  belligerently 
sensitive.  And  each  time  the  look  on  her  face 
was  more  resentful  and  brooding.  "I'm  wor- 
ried about  Clare,  she  seems  so  unhappy,"  Irene 
remembered  her  mother  saying.  The  visits 
dwindled,  becoming  shorter,  fewer,  and  further 
apart  until  at  last  they  ceased. 

Irene's  father,  who  had  been  fond  of 
Bob  Kendry,  made  a  special  trip  over  to  the 



west  side  about  two  months  after  the  last  time 
Clare  had  been  to  see  them  and  returned  with 
the  bare  information  that  he  had  seen  the  rela- 
tives and  that  Clare  had  disappeared.  What 
else  he  had  confided  to  her  mother,  in  the  pri- 
vacy of  their  own  room,  Irene  didn't  know. 

But  she  had  had  something  more  than  a 
vague  suspicion  of  its  nature.  For  there  had 
been  rumours.  Rumours  that  were,  to  girls  of 
eighteen  and  nineteen  years,  interesting  and 

There  was  the  one  about  Clare  Ken- 
dry's  having  been  seen  at  the  dinner  hour  in  a 
fashionable  hotel  in  company  with  another 
woman  and  two  men,  all  of  them  white.  And 
dressed!  And  there  was  another  which  told  of 
her  driving  in  Lincoln  Park  with  a  man,  un- 
mistakably white,  and  evidently  rich.  Packard 
limousine,  chauffeur  in  livery,  and  all  that. 
There  had  been  others  whose  context  Irene 
could  no  longer  recollect,  but  all  pointing  in 
the  same  glamorous  direction. 

And  she  could  remember  quite  vividly 
how,  when  they  used  to  repeat  and  discuss  these 



tantalizing  stories  about  Clare,  the  girls  would 
always  look  knowingly  at  one  another  and  then, 
with  little  excited  giggles,  drag  away  their 
eager  shining  eyes  and  say  with  lurking  under- 
tones of  regret  or  disbelief  some  such  thing  as: 
"Oh,  well,  maybe  she's  got  a  job  or  something," 
or  "After  all,  it  mayn't  have  been  Clare,"  or 
"You  can't  believe  all  you  hear." 

And  always  some  girl,  more  matter-of- 
fact  or  more  frankly  malicious  than  the  rest, 
would  declare:  "Of  course  it  was  Clare!  Ruth 
said  it  was  and  so  did  Frank,  and  they  cer- 
tainly know  her  when  they  see  her  as  well  as 
we  do."  And  someone  else  would  say:  "Yes, 
you  can  bet  it  was  Clare  all  right."  And  then 
they  would  all  join  in  asserting  that  there  could 
be  no  mistake  about  it's  having  been  Clare, 
and  that  such  circumstances  could  mean  only 
one  thing.  Working  indeed!  People  didn't  take 
their  servants  to  the  Shelby  for  dinner.  Cer- 
tainly not  all  dressed  up  like  that.  There  would 
follow  insincere  regrets,  and  somebody  would 
say:  "Poor  girl,  I  suppose  it's  true  enough,  but 



what  can  you  expect.  Look  at  her  father.  And 
her  mother,  they  say,  would  have  run  away  If 
she  hadn't  died.  Besides,  Clare  always  had  a — 
a — having  way  with  her." 

Precisely  that !  The  words  came  to  Irene 
as  she  sat  there  on  the  Drayton  roof,  facing 
Clare  Kendry.  "A  having  way."  Well,  Irene 
acknowledged,  judging  from  her  appearance 
and  manner,  Clare  seemed  certainly  to  have 
succeeded  In  having  a  few  of  the  things  that 
she  wanted. 

It  was,  Irene  repeated,  after  the  Inter- 
val of  the  waiter,  a  great  surprise  and  a  very 
pleasant  one  to  see  Clare  again  after  all  those 
years,  twelve  at  least. 

"Why,  Clare,  you're  the  last  person  In 
the  world  I'd  have  expected  to  run  Into.  I  guess 
that's  why  I  didn't  know  you." 

Clare  answered  gravely:  "Yes.  It  Is 
twelve  years.  But  I'm  not  surprised  to  see  you, 
'Rene.  That  Is,  not  so  very.  In  fact,  ever  since 
I've  been  here,  I've  more  or  less  hoped  that  I 
should,  or  someone.   Preferably  you,  though. 



Still,  I  Imagine  that's  because  I've  thought  of 
you  often  and  often,  while  you — I'll  wager 
you've  never  given  me  a  thought." 

It  was  true,  of  course.  After  the  first 
speculations  and  indictments,  Clare  had  gone 
completely  from  Irene's  thoughts.  And  from 
the  thoughts  of  others  too — if  their  conversa- 
tion was  any  indication  of  their  thoughts. 

Besides,  Clare  had  never  been  exactly 
one  of  the  group,  just  as  she'd  never  been 
merely  the  janitor's  daughter,  but  the  daughter 
of  Mr.  Bob  Kendry,  who,  it  was  true,  was  a 
janitor,  but  who  also,  it  seemed,  had  been  in 
college  with  some  of  their  fathers.  Just  how  or 
why  he  happened  to  be  a  janitor,  and  a  very  in- 
efficient one  at  that,  they  none  of  them  quite 
knew.  One  of  Irene's  brothers,  who  had  put  the 
question  to  their  father,  had  been  told:  "That's 
something  that  doesn't  concern  you,"  and  given 
him  the  advice  to  be  careful  not  to  end  in  the 
same  manner  as  "poor  Bob." 

No,  Irene  hadn't  thought  of  Clare 
Kendry.  Her  own  life  had  been  too  crowded. 
So,  she  supposed,  had  the  lives  of  other  peo- 



pie.  She  defended  her — their — forgetfulness. 
"You  know  how  It  is.  Everybody's  so  busy. 
People  leave,  drop  out,  maybe  for  a  little 
while  there's  talk  about  them,  or  questions; 
then,  gradually  they're  forgotten." 

*'Yes,  that's  natural,"  Clare  agreed. 
And  what,  she  inquired,  had  they  said  of  her 
for  that  little  while  at  the  beginning  before 
they'd  forgotten  her  altogether? 

Irene  looked  away.  She  felt  the  tell- 
tale colour  rising  in  her  cheeks.  "You  can't," 
she  evaded,  "expect  me  to  remember  trifles 
like  that  over  twelve  years  of  marriages,  births, 
deaths,  and  the  war." 

There  followed  that  trill  of  notes  that 
was  Clare  Kendry's  laugh,  small  and  clear  and 
the  very  essence  of  mockery. 

"Oh,  'Rene!"  she  cried,  "of  course  you 
remember  I  But  I  won't  make  you  tell  me,  be- 
cause I  know  just  as  well  as  if  I'd  been  there 
and  heard  every  unkind  word.  Oh,  I  know,  I 
know.  Frank  Danton  saw  me  in  the  Shelby 
one  night.  Don't  tell  me  he  didn't  broadcast 
that,  and  with  embroidery.  Others  may  have 



seen  me  at  other  times.  I  don't  know.  But  once 
I  met  Margaret  Hammer  In  Marshall  Field's. 
I'd  have  spoken,  was  on  the  very  point  of  doing 
it,  but  she  cut  me  dead.  My  dear  'Rene,  I  as- 
sure you  that  from  the  way  she  looked  through 
me,  even  I  was  uncertain  whether  I  was  actually 
there  In  the  flesh  or  not.  I  remember  It  clearly, 
too  clearly.  It  was  that  very  thing  which,  In 
a  way,  finally  decided  me  not  to  go  out  and 
see  you  one  last  time  before  I  went  away  to 
stay.  Somehow,  good  as  all  of  you,  the  whole 
family,  had  always  been  to  the  poor  forlorn 
child  that  was  me,  I  felt  I  shouldn't  be  able 
to  bear  that.  I  mean  if  any  of  you,  your  mother 
or  the  boys  or —  Oh,  well,  I  just  felt  I'd  rather 
not  know  It  if  you  did.  And  so  I  stayed  away. 
Silly,  I  suppose.  Sometimes  I've  been  sorry  I 
didn't  go." 

Irene  wondered  if  it  was  tears  that 
made  Clare's  eyes  so  luminous. 

"And  now  'Rene,  I  want  to  hear  all 
about  you  and  everybody  and  everything. 
You're  married,  I  s'pose?" 

Irene  nodded. 



"Yes,"    Clare    said    knowingly,    "you 
would  be.  Tell  me  about  it/' 

And  so  for  an  hour  or  more  they  had 
sat  there  smoking  and  drinking  tea  and  filling 
in  the  gap  of  twelve  years  with  talk.  That  is, 
Irene  did.  She  told  Clare  about  her  marriage 
and  removal  to  New  York,  about  her  husband, 
and  about  her  two  sons,  who  were  having  their 
first  experience  of  being  separated  from  their 
parents  at  a  summer  camp,  about  her  mother's 
death,  about  the  marriages  of  her  two  brothers. 
She  told  of  the  marriages,  births  and  deaths  In 
other  families  that  Clare  had  known,  opening 
up,  for  her,  new  vistas  on  the  lives  of  old 
friends  and  acquaintances. 

Clare  drank  it  all  In,  these  things  which 
for  so  long  she  had  wanted  to  know  and  hadn't 
been  able  to  learn.  She  sat  motionless,  her 
bright  lips  slightly  parted,  her  whole  face  lit  by 
the  radiance  of  her  happy  eyes.  Now  and  then 
she  put  a  question,  but  for  the  most  part  she 
was  silent. 

Somewhere  outside,  a  clock  struck. 
Brought  back  to  the  present,  Irene  looked  down 



at  her  watch  and  exclaimed:  *'0h,  I  must  go, 

A  moment  passed  during  which  she  was 
the  prey  of  uneasiness.  It  had  suddenly  occurred 
to  her  that  she  hadn't  asked  Clare  anything 
about  her  own  life  and  that  she  had  a  very 
definite  unwillingness  to  do  so.  And  she  was 
quite  well  aware  of  the  reason  for  that  re- 
luctance. But,  she  asked  herself,  wouldn't  it, 
all  things  considered,  be  the  kindest  thing  not 
to  ask?  If  things  with  Clare  were  as  she — as 
they  all — had  suspected,  wouldn't  it  be  more 
tactful  to  seem  to  forget  to  Inquire  how  she 
had  spent  those  twelve  years? 

Iff  It  was  that  "if"  which  bothered  her. 
It  might  be,  it  might  just  be,  in  spite  of  all  gos- 
sip and  even  appearances  to  the  contrary,  that 
there  was  nothing,  had  been  nothing,  that 
couldn't  be  simply  and  innocently  explained. 
Appearances,  she  knew  now,  had  a  way  some- 
times of  not  fitting  facts,  and  if  Clare  hadn't — 
Well,  If  they  had  all  been  wrong,  then  certainly 
she  ought  to  express  some  Interest  In  what  had 
happened  to  her.  It  would  seem  queer  and  rude 



if  she  didn't.  But  how  was  she  to  know?  There 
was,  she  at  last  decided,  no  way;  so  she  merely 
said  again.  "I  must  go,  Clare." 

"Please,  not  so  soon,  'Rene,"  Clare 
begged,  not  moving. 

Irene  thought:  ''She's  really  almost  too 
good-looking.  It's  hardly  any  wonder  that 

''And  now,  'Rene  dear,  that  I've  found 
you,  I  mean  to  see  lots  and  lots  of  you.  We're 
here  for  a  month  at  least.  Jack,  that's  my  hus- 
band, is  here  on  business.  Poor  dear!  in  this 
heat.  Isn't  it  beastly?  Come  to  dinner  with  us 
tonight,  won't  you?"  And  she  gave  Irene  a  cu- 
rious little  sidelong  glance  and  a  sly,  ironical 
smile  peeped  out  on  her  full  red  lips,  as  if  she 
had  been  in  the  secret  of  the  other's  thoughts 
,   and  was  mocking  her. 

Irene  was  conscious  of  a  sharp  intake 
of  breath,  but  whether  it  was  relief  or  chagrin 
that  she  felt,  she  herself  could  not  have  told. 
She  said  hastily:  "I'm  afraid  I  can't,  Clare.  I'm 
filled  up.  Dinner  and  bridge.  I'm  so  sorry." 

"Come  tomorrow  instead,  to  tea,"  Clare 



insisted.  *'Then  you'll  see  Margery — she's  just 
ten — and  Jack  too,  maybe,  if  he  hasn't  got  an 
appointment  or  something." 

From  Irene  came  an  uneasy  little  laugh. 
She  had  an  engagement  for  tomorrow  also  and 
she  was  afraid  that  Clare  would  not  believe  It. 
Suddenly,  now,  that  possibility  disturbed  her. 
Therefore  It  was  with  a  half-vexed  feeling  at 
the  sense  of  undeserved  guilt  that  had  come 
upon  her  that  she  explained  that  It  wouldn't 
be  possible  because  she  wouldn't  be  free  for 
tea,  or  for  luncheon  or  dinner  either.  "And  the 
next  day's  Friday  when  I'll  be  going  away  for 
the  week-end,  Idlewlld,  you  know.  It's  quite 
the  thing  now."  And  then  she  had  an  Inspira* 

"Clare!"  she  exclaimed,  "why  don't 
you  come  up  with  me?  Our  place  Is  probably 
full  up — Jim's  wife  has  a  way  of  collecting 
mobs  of  the  most  Impossible  people — but  we 
can  always  manage  to  find  room  for  one  more. 
And  you'll  see  absolutely  everybody." 

In  the  very  moment  of  giving  the  in- 



vltatlon  she  regretted  It.  What  a  foolish,  what 
an  idiotic  Impulse  to  have  given  way  to !  She 
groaned  Inwardly  as  she  thought  of  the  endless 
explanations  In  which  it  would  Involve  her,  of 
the  curiosity,  and  the  talk,  and  the  lifted  eye- 
brows. It  wasn't  she  assured  herself,  that  she 
was  a  snob,  that  she  cared  greatly  for  the  petty 
restrictions  and  distinctions  with  which  what 
called  Itself  Negro  society  chose  to  hedge  It- 
self about;  but  that  she  had  a  natural  and 
deeply  rooted  aversion  to  the  kind  of  front- 
page notoriety  that  Clare  Kendry's  presence  In 
Idlewlld,  as  her  guest,  would  expose  her  to.  And 
here  she  was,  perversely  and  against  all  reason, 
inviting  her. 

But  Clare  shook  her  head.  "Really,  I'd 
love  to,  'Rene,"  she  said,  a  little  mournfully. 
^'There's  nothing  I'd  like  better.  But  I  couldn't. 
I  mustn't,  you  see.  It  wouldn't  do  at  all.  I'm 
sure  you  understand.  I'm  simply  crazy  to  go, 
but  I  can't."  The  dark  eyes  glistened  and  there 
was  a  suspicion  of  a  quaver  in  the  husky  voice. 
"And  believe  me,  'Rene,  I  do  thank  you  for 



asking  me.  Don't  think  I've  entirely  forgotten 
just  what  it  would  mean  for  you  if  I  went.  That 
is,  if  you  still  care  about  such  things." 

All  indication  of  tears  had  gone  from 
her  eyes  and  voice,  and  Irene  Redfield,  search- 
ing her  face,  had  an  offended  feeling  that  be- 
hind what  was  now  only  an  ivory  mask  lurked 
a  scornful  amusement.  She  looked  away,  at  the 
wall  far  beyond  Clare.  Well,  she  deserved  it, 
for,  as  she  acknowledged  to  herself,  she  was 
relieved.  And  for  the  very  reason  at  which 
Clare  had  hinted.  The  fact  that  Clare  had 
guesssed  her  perturbation  did  not,  however.  In 
any  degree  lessen  that  relief.  She  was  annoyed 
at  having  been  detected  in  what  might  seem  to 
be  an  insincerity;  but  that  was  all. 

The  waiter  came  with  Clare's  change. 
Irene  reminded  herself  that  she  ought  imme- 
diately to  go.  But  she  didn't  move. 

The  truth  was,  she  was  curious.  There 
were  things  that  she  wanted  to  ask  Clare  Ken- 
dry.  She  wished  to  find  out  about  this  hazardous 
business  of  "passing,"  this  breaking  away  from 
all  that  was  famihar  and  friendly  to  take  one's 



chance  in  another  environment,  not  entirely 
strange,  perhaps,  but  certainly  not  entirely 
friendly.  What,  for  example,  one  did  about 
background,  how  one  accounted  for  oneself. 
And  how  one  felt  when  one  came  into  contact 
with  other  Negroes.  But  she  couldn't.  She  was 
unable  to  think  of  a  single  question  that  in  its 
context  or  its  phrasing  was  not  too  frankly  cu- 
rious, if  not  actually  impertinent. 

As  if  aware  of  her  desire  and  her  hesi- 
tation, Clare  remarked,  thoughtfully:  "You 
know,  'Rene,  I've  often  wondered  why  more 
coloured  girls,  girls  like  you  and  Margaret 
Hammer  and  Esther  Dawson  and — oh,  lots  of 
others — never  ^passed'  over.  It's  such  a  fright- 
fully easy  thing  to  do.  If  one's  the  type,  all 
that's  needed  is  a  little  nerve." 

"What  about  background?  Family,  I 
mean.  Surely  you  can't  just  drop  down  on  peo- 
ple from  nowhere  and  expect  them  to  receive 
you  with  open  arms,  can  you?" 

"Almost,"  Clare  asserted.  "You'd  be 
surprised,  'Rene,  how  much  easier  that  is  with 
white  people  than  with  us.  Maybe  because  there 



are  so  many  more  of  them,  or  maybe  because 
they  are  secure  and  so  don't  have  to  bother.  I've 
never  quite  decided." 

Irene  was  Inclined  to  be  incredulous. 
"You  mean  that  you  didn't  have  to  explain 
where  you  came  from?  It  seems  impossible." 
Clare  cast  a  .glance  of  repressed  amuse- 
ment across  the  table  at  her.  "As  a  matter  of 
fact,  I  didn't.  Though  I  suppose  under  any 
other  circumstances  I  might  have  had  to  pro- 
vide some  plausible  tale  to  account  for  myself. 
I've  a  good  imagination,  so  I'm  sure  I  could 
have  done  it  quite  creditably,  and  credibly.  But 
it  wasn't  necessary.  There  were  my  aunts,  you 
see,  respectable  and  authentic  enough  for  any- 
thing or  anybody." 

"I  see.  They  were  'passing'  too." 
"No.  They  weren't.  They  were  white." 
"Oh!"  And  in  the  next  instant  it  came 
back  to  Irene  that  she  had  heard  this  mentioned 
before;  by  her  father,  or,  more  likely,  her 
mother.  They  were  Bob  Kendry's  aunts.  He  had 
been  a  son  of  their  brother's,  on  the  left  hand. 
A  wild  oat. 



*'They  were  nice  old  ladies,"  Clare  ex- 
plained, "very  religious  and  as  poor  as  church 
mice.  That  adored  brother  of  theirs,  my  grand- 
father, got  through  every  penny  they  had  after 
he'd  finished  his  own  little  bit." 

Clare  paused  in  her  narrative  to  light 
another  cigarette.  Her  smile,  her  expression, 
Irene  noticed,  was  faintly  resentful. 

"Being  good  Christians,"  she  continued, 
"when  dad  came  to  his  tipsy  end,  they  did  their 
duty  and  gave  me  a  home  of  sorts.  I  was,  it  was 
true,  expected  to  earn  my  keep  by  doing  all  the 
housework  and  most  of  the  washing.  But  do  you 
realize,  'Rene,  that  if  it  hadn't  been  for  them, 
I  shouldn't  have  had  a  home  in  the  world?" 

Irene's  nod  and  little  murmur  were  com- 
prehensive, understanding. 

Clare  made  a  small  mischievous  grim- 
ace and  proceeded.  "Besides,  to  their  notion, 
hard  labour  was  good  for  me.  I  had  Negro 
blood  and  they  belonged  to  the  generation  that 
had  written  and  read  long  articles  headed: 
'Will  the  Blacks  Work?'  Too,  they  weren't 
quite  sure  that  the  good  God  hadn't  intended 



the  sons  and  daughters  of  Ham  to  sweat  be- 
cause he  had  poked  fun  at  old  man  Noah  once 
when  he  had  taken  a  drop  too  much.  I  remem- 
ber the  aunts  telling  me  that  that  old  drunkard 
had  cursed  Ham  and  his  sons  for  all  time." 

Irene  laughed.  But  Clare  remained  quite 

"It  was  more  than  a  joke,  I  assure  you, 
'Rene.  It  was  a  hard  life  for  a  girl  of  sixteen. 
Still,  I  had  a  roof  over  my  head,  and  food,  and 
clothes — such  as  they  were.  And  there  were  the 
Scriptures,  and  talks  on  morals  and  thrift  and 
industry  and  the  loving-kindness  of  the  good 

"Have  you  ever  stopped  to  think, 
Clare,"  Irene  demanded,  "how  much  unhappi- 
ness  and  downright  cruelty  are  laid  to  the  lov- 
ing-kindness of  the  Lord?  And  always  by  His 
most  ardent  followers,  it  seems." 

"Have  I?"  Clare  exclaimed.  "It,  they, 
made  me  what  I  am  today.  For,  of  course,  I 
was  determined  to  get  away,  to  be  a  person 
and  not  a  charity  or  a  problem,  or  even  a 
daughter  of  the  indiscreet  Ham.  Then,  too,  I 



wanted  things.  I  knew  I  wasn't  bad-looking  and 
that  I  could  'pass.'  You  can't  know,  'Rene,  how, 
when  I  used  to  go  over  to  the  south  side,  I 
used  almost  to  hate  all  of  you.  You  had  all  the 
things  I  wanted  and  never  had  had.  It  made  me 
all  the  more  determined  to  get  them,  and  oth- 
ers. Do  you,  can  you  understand  what  I  felt?" 

She  looked  up  with  a  pointed  and  ap- 
pealing effect,  and,  evidently  finding  the  sympa- 
thetic expression  on  Irene's  face  sufficient  an- 
swer, went  on.  "The  aunts  were  queer.  For 
all  their  Bibles  and  praying  and  ranting  about 
honesty,  they  didn't  want  anyone  to  know  that 
their  darling  brother  had  seduced — ruined,  they 
called  It — a  Negro  girl.  They  could  excuse  the 
ruin,  but  they  couldn't  forgive  the  tar-brush. 
They  forbade  me  to  mention  Negroes  to  the 
neighbours,  or  even  to  mention  the  south  side. 
You  may  be  sure  that  I  didn't.  I'll  bet  they 
were  good  and  sorry  afterwards." 

She  laughed  and  the  ringing  bells  In 
her  laugh  had  a  hard  metallic  sound. 

"When  the  chance  to  get  away  came, 
that  omission  was  of  great  value  to  me.  When 



Jack,  a  schoolboy  acquaintance  of  some  peo- 
ple In  the  neighbourhood,  turned  up  from 
South  America  with  untold  gold,  there  was  no 
one  to  tell  him  that  I  was  coloured,  and  many 
to  tell  him  about  the  severity  and  the  religious- 
ness of  Aunt  Grace  and  Aunt  Edna.  You  can 
guess  the  rest.  After  he  came,  I  stopped  slip- 
ping off  to  the  south  side  and  slipped  off  to  meet 
him  Instead.  I  couldn't  manage  both.  In  the 
end  I  had  no  great  difficulty  In  convincing  him 
that  It  was  useless  to  talk  marriage  to  the 
aunts.  So  on  the  day  that  I  was  eighteen,  we 
went  off  and  were  married.  So  that's  that. 
Nothing  could  have  been  easier." 

*'Yes,  I  do  see  that  for  you  It  was  easy 
enough.  By  the  way !  I  wonder  why  they  didn't 
tell  father  that  you  were  married.  He  went 
over  to  find  out  about  you  when  you  stopped 
coming  over  to  see  us.  I'm  sure  they  didn't  tell 
him.  Not  that  you  were  married." 

Clare  Kendry's  eyes  were  bright  with 

tears  that  didn't  fall.   "Oh,   how  lovely!  To 

have  cared  enough  about  me  to  do  that.  The 

dear  sweet  man!  Well,  they  couldn't  tell  him 

•  42 


because  they  didn't  know  it.  I  took  care  of  that, 
for  I  couldn't  be  sure  that  those  consciences  of 
theirs  wouldn't  begin  to  work  on  them  after- 
wards and  make  them  let  the  cat  out  of  the 
bag.  The  old  things  probably  thought  I  was 
living  In  sin,  wherever  I  was.  And  it  would  be 
about  what  they  expected." 

An  amused  smile  lit  the  lovely  face  for 
the  smallest  fraction  of  a  second.  After  a  little 
silence  she  said  soberly:  "But  I'm  sorry  if  they 
told  your  father  so.  That  was  something  I 
hadn't  counted  on." 

"I'm  not  sure  that  they  did,"  Irene  told 
her.  "He  didn't  say  so,  anyway.'* 

"He  wouldn't,  'Rene  dear.  Not  your 

"Thanks.  I'm  sure  he  wouldn't." 

"But  you've  never  answered  my  ques- 
tion. Tell  me,  honestly,  haven't  you  ever 
thought  of  'passing'  ?" 

Irene  answered  promptly:  "No.  Why 
should  I?"  And  so  disdainful  was  her  voice 
and  manner  that  Clare's  face  flushed  and  her 
eyes  glinted.  Irene  hastened  to  add:  "You  see, 



Clare,  I've  everything  I  want.  Except,  perhaps, 
a  little  more  money." 

At  that  Clare  laughed,  her  spark  of 
anger  vanished  as  quickly  as  it  had  appeared. 
"Of  course,"  she  declared,  "that's  what  every- 
body wants,  just  a  little  more  money,  even  the 
people  who  have  it.  And  I  must  say  I  don't 
blame  them.  Money's  awfully  nice  to  have.  In 
fact,  all  things  considered,  I  think,  'Rene,  that 
it's  even  worth  the  price." 

Irene  could  only  shrug  her  shoulders. 
Her  reason  partly  agreed,  her  instinct  wholly 
rebelled.  And  she  could  not  say  why.  And 
though  conscious  that  if  she  didn't  hurry  away, 
she  was  going  to  be  late  to  dinner,  she  still 
lingered.  It  was  as  if  the  woman  sitting  on  the 
other  side  of  the  table,  a  girl  that  she  had 
known,  who  had  done  this  rather  dangerous 
and,  to  Irene  Redfield,  abhorrent  thing  success- 
fully and  had  announced  herself  well  satisfied, 
had  for  her  a  fascination,  strange  and  com- 

Clare  Kendry  was  still  leaning  back  in 
the   tall   chair,   her   sloping   shoulders   against 



the  carved  top.  She  sat  with  an  air  of  indif- 
ferent assurance,  as  if  arranged  for,  desired. 
About  her  clung  that  dim  suggestion  of  polite 
insolence  with  which  a  few  women  are  born 
and  which  some  acquire  with  the  coming  of 
riches  or  importance. 

Clare,  it  gave  Irene  a  little  prick  of 
satisfaction  to  recall,  hadn't  got  that  by  pass- 
ing herself  off  as  white.  She  herself  had  always 
had  it. 

Just  as  she'd  always  had  that  pale  gold 
hair,  which,  unsheared  still,  was  drawn  loosely 
back  from  a  broad  brow,  partly  hidden  by  the 
small  close  hat.  Her  lips,  painted  a  brilliant 
geranium-red,  were  sweet  and  sensitive  and  a 
little  obstinate.  A  tempting  mouth.  The  face 
across  the  forehead  and  cheeks  was  a  trifle  too 
wide,  but  the  ivory  skin  had  a  peculiar  soft 
lustre.  And  the  eyes  were  magnificent!  dark, 
sometimes  absolutely  black,  always  luminous, 
and  set  in  long,  black  lashes.  Arresting  eyes, 
slow  and  mesmeric,  and  with,  for  all  their 
warmth,  something  withdrawn  and  secret  about 



Ah!  Surely!  They  were  Negro  eyes! 
mysterious  and  concealing.  And  set  in  that  ivory 
face  under  that  bright  hair,  there  was  about 
them  something  exotic. 

Yes,  Clare  Kendry's  loveliness  was  ab- 
solute, beyond  challenge,  thanks  to  those  eyes 
which  her  grandmother  and  later  her  mother 
and  father  had  given  her. 

Into  those  eyes  there  came  a  smile  and 
over  Irene  the  sense  of  being  petted  and  ca- 
ressed. She  smiled  back. 

"Maybe,"  Clare  suggested,  "you  can 
come  Monday,  if  you're  back.  Or,  if  you're  not, 
then  Tuesday."  ^ 

With  a  small  regretful  sigh,  Irene  in- 
formed Clare  that  she  was  afraid  she  wouldn't 
be  back  by  Monday  and  that  she  was  sure  she 
had  dozens  of  things  for  Tuesday,  and  that  she 
was  leaving  Wednesday.  It  might  be,  how- 
ever, that  she  could  get  out  of  something  Tues- 

"Oh,  do  try.  Do  put  somebody  else  off. 
The  others  can  see  you  any  time,  while  I — Why, 
I   may  never  see  you   again!   Think  of  that, 



'Rene!  You'll  have  to  come.  You'll  simply 
have  to !  I'll  never  forgive  you  if  you  don't." 

At  that  moment  It  seemed  a  dreadful 
thing  to  think  of  never  seeing  Clare  Kendry 
again.  Standing  there  under  the  appeal,  the 
caress,  of  her  eyes,  Irene  had  the  desire,  the 
hope,  that  this  parting  wouldn't  be  the  last. 

"I'll  try,  Clare,"  she  promised  gently. 
"I'll  call  you — or  will  you  call  me?" 

"I  think,  perhaps,  I'd  better  call  you. 
Your  father's  In  the  book,  I  know,  and  the  ad- 
dress Is  the  same.  Sixty-four  eighteen.  Some 
memory,  what?  Now  remember,  I'm  going  to 
expect  you.  You've  got  to  be  able  to  come." 

Again  that  peculiar  mellowing  smile. 

"I'll  do  my  best,  Clare." 

Irene  gathered  up  her  gloves  and  bag. 
They  stood  up.  She  put  out  her  hand.  Clare 
took  and  held  It. 

"It  has  been  nice  seeing  you  again, 
Clare.  How  pleased  and  glad  father'll  be  to 
hear  about  you!" 

"Until  Tuesday,  then,"  Clare  Kendry 
replied.  "I'll  spend  every  minute  of  the  time 



from  now  on  looking  forward  to  seeing  you 
again.  Good-bye,  'Rene  dear.  My  love  to  your 
father,  and  this  kiss  for  him." 

The  sun  had  gone  from  overhead,  but 
the  streets  were  still  like  fiery  furnaces.  The 
languid  breeze  was  still  hot.  And  the  scurry- 
ing people  looked  even  more  wilted  than  be- 
fore Irene  had  fled  from  their  contact. 

Crossing  the  avenue  In  the  heat,  far 
from  the  coolness  of  the  Drayton's  roof,  away 
from  the  seduction  of  Clare  Kendry's  smile, 
she  was  aware  of  a  sense  of  Irritation  with  her- 
self because  she  had  been  pleased  and  a  little 
flattered  at  the  other's  obvious  gladness  at  their 

With  her  perspiring  progress  homeward 
this  irritation  grew,  and  she  began  to  wonder 
just  what  had  possessed  her  to  make  her  prom- 
ise to  find  time,  In  the  crowded  days  that  re- 
mained of  her  visit,  to  spend  another  afternoon 
with  a  woman  whose  life  had  so  definitely  and 
deliberately  diverged  from  hers;   and  whom, 



as  had  been  pointed  out,  she  might  never  see 

Why  In  the  world  had  she  made  such  a 

As  she  went  up  the  steps  to  her  father's 
house,  thinking  with  what  interest  and  amaze- 
ment he  would  listen  to  her  story  of  the  after- 
noon's encounter,  It  came  to  her  that  Clare 
had  omitted  to  mention  her  marriage  name. 
She  had  referred  to  her  husband  as  Jack.  That 
was  all.  Had  that,  Irene  asked  herself,  been 
intentional  ? 

Clare  had  only  to  pick  up  the  telephone 
to  communicate  with  her,  or  to  drop  her  a  card, 
or  to  jump  into  a  taxi.  But  she  couldn't  reach 
Clare  in  any  way.  Nor  could  anyone  else  to 
whom  she  might  speak  of  their  meeting. 

"As  if  I  should!" 

Her  key  turned  In  the  lock.  She  went  in. 
Her  father,  it  seemed,  hadn't  come  in  yet. 

Irene  decided  that  she  wouldn't,  after 
all,  say  anything  to  him  about  Clare  Kendry. 
She   had,    she   told  herself,   no   inclination   to 



Speak  of  a  person  who  held  so  low  an  opinion 
of  her  loyalty,  or  her  discretion.  And  certainly 
she  had  no  desire  or  Intention  of  making  the 
slightest  effort  about  Tuesday.  Nor  any  other 
day  for  that  matter. 

She  was  through  with  Clare  Kendry. 


On  TUESDAY  morning  a  dome  of  grey  sky  rose 
over  the  parched  city,  but  the  stifling  air  was 
not  reHeved  by  the  silvery  mist  that  seemed  to 
hold  a  promise  of  rain,  which  did  not  fall. 

To  Irene  Redfield  this  soft  foreboding 
fog  was  another  reason  for  doing  nothing 
about  seeing  Clare  Kendry  that  afternoon. 

But  she  did  see  her. 

The  telephone.  For  hours  it  had  rung 
like  something  possessed.  Since  nine  o'clock  she 
had  been  hearing  its  insistent  jangle.  Awhile 
she  was  resolute,  saying  firmly  each  time:  "Not 
in,  Liza,  take  the  message."  And  each  time  the 
servant  returned  with  the  information:  "It's  the 
same  lady,  ma'am;  she  says  she'll  call  again." 

But  at  noon,  her  nerves  frayed  and  her 
conscience  smiting  her  at  the  reproachful  look 
on  Liza's  ebony  face  as  she  withdrew  for  an- 
other denial,  Irene  weakened. 

"Oh,  never  mind.  I'll  answer  this  time, 



'It's  her  again." 

^'Hello.  .  .  .  Yes.'' 

"It's  Clare,  'Rene.  .  .  .  Where  have 
you  been?  .  .  .  Can  you  be  here  around  four? 
.  .  .  What?  .  .  .  But,  'Rene,  you  promised! 
Just  for  a  little  while.  .  .  .  You  can  if  you 
want  to.  ...  I  am  so  disappointed.  I  had 
counted  so  on  seeing  you.  .  .  .  Please  be  nice 
and  come.  Only  for  a  minute.  I'm  sure  you  can 
manage  it  If  you  try.  ...  I  won't  beg  you  to 
stay.  .  .  .  Yes.  .  .  .  I'm  going  to  expect  you 
.  .  .  It's  the  Morgan.  .  .  Oh,  yes!  The 
name's  Bellew,  Mrs.  John  Bellew.  .  .  .  About 
four,  then.  .  .  .  I'll  be  so  happy  to  see 
you!  .  .  .  Goodbye." 


Irene  hung  up  the  receiver  with  an  em- 
phatic bang,  her  thoughts  immediately  filled 
with  self-reproach.  She'd  done  it  again.  Al- 
lowed Clare  Kendry  to  persuade  her  into  prom- 
ising to  do  something  for  which  she  had  neither 
time  nor  any  special  desire.  What  was  it  about 
Clare's  voice  that  was  so  appealing,  so  very 
seductive  ? 



Clare  met  her  in  the  hall  with  a  kiss. 
She  said:  "You're  good  to  come,  'Rene.  But, 
then,  you  always  were  nice  to  me."  And  under 
her  potent  smile  a  part  of  Irene's  annoyance 
with  herself  fled.  She  was  even  a  little  glad  that 
she  had  come. 

Clare  led  the  way,  stepping  lightly,  to- 
wards a  room  whose  door  was  standing  partly 
open,  saying:  "There's  a  surprise.  It's  a  real 
party.  See." 

Entering,  Irene  found  herself  in  a  sit- 
ting-room, large  and  high,  at  whose  windows 
hung  startling  blue  draperies  which  triumph- 
antly dragged  attention  from  the  gloomy  choco- 
late-coloured furniture.  And  Clare  was  wearing 
a  thin  floating  dress  of  the  same  shade  of  blue, 
which  suited  her  and  the  rather  difficult  room 
to  perfection. 

For  a  minute  Irene  thought  the  room 
was  empty,  but  turning  her  head,  she  dis- 
covered, sunk  deep  in  the  cushions  of  a  huge 
sofa,  a  woman  staring  up  at  her  with  such  in- 
tense concentration  that  her  eyelids  were  drawn 
as  though  the  strain  of  that  upward  glance  had 



paralysed  them.  At  first  Irene  took  her  to  be 
a  stranger,  but  In  the  next  instant  she  said  in  an 
unsympathetic,  almost  harsh  voice:  "And  how 
are  you,  Gertrude?" 

The  woman  nodded  and  forced  a  smile 
to  her  pouting  lips.  "I'm  all  right,"  she  replied. 
"And  you're  just  the  same,  Irene.  Not  changed 
a  bit." 

"Thank  you."  Irene  responded,  as  she 
chose  a  seat.  She  was  thinking:  "Great  good- 
ness! Two  of  them." 

For  Gertrude  too  had  married  a  white 
man,  though  It  couldn't  be  truthfully  said  that 
she  was  "passing."  Her  husband — what  was 
his  name? — had  been  In  school  with  her 
and  had  been  quite  well  aware,  as  had  his 
family  and  most  of  his  friends,  that  she  was 
a  Negro.  It  hadn't,  Irene  knew,  seemed  to 
matter  to  him  then.  Did  it  now,  she  won- 
dered? Had  Fred — Fred  Martin,  that  was 
It — had  he  ever  regretted  his  marriage 
because  of  Gertrude's  race?  Had  Ger- 
trude ? 

Turning    to    Gertrude,    Irene    asked: 



"And  Fred,  how  Is  he?  It's  unmentionable  years 
since  I've  seen  him." 

*'0h,  he's  all  right,"  Gertrude  an- 
swered briefly. 

For  a  full  minute  no  one  spoke.  Finally 
out  of  the  oppressive  little  silence  Clare's  voice 
came  pleasantly,  conversationally:  "We'll  have 
tea  right  away.  I  know  that  you  can't  stay  long, 
'Rene.  And  I'm  so  sorry  you  won't  see  Mar- 
gery. We  went  up  the  lake  over  the  week  end 
to  see  some  of  Jack's  people,  just  out  of  Mil- 
waukee. Margery  wanted  to  stay  with  the 
children.  It  seemed  a  shame  not  to  let  her,  es- 
pecially since  It's  so  hot  In  town.  But  I'm  ex- 
pecting Jack  any  second." 

Irene  said  briefly:  "That's  nice." 

Gertrude  remained  silent.  She  was.  It 
was  plain,  a  little  111  at  ease.  And  her  presence 
there  annoyed  Irene,  roused  in  her  a  defensive 
and  resentful  feeling  for  which  she  had  at  the 
moment  no  explanation.  But  It  did  seem  to 
her  odd  that  the  woman  that  Clare  was  now 
should  have  Invited  the  woman  that  Ger- 
trude   was.    Still,    of    course,    Clare    couldn't 



have  known.  Twelve  years  since  they  had  met. 

Later,  when  she  examined  her  feeHng 
of  annoyance,  Irene  admitted,  a  shade  reluc- 
tantly, that  it  arose  from  a  feeling  of  being  out- 
numbered, a  sense  of  aloneness,  in  her  adher- 
ence to  her  own  class  and  kind;  not  merely  in 
the  great  thing  of  marriage,  but  in  the  whole 
pattern  of  her  life  as  well. 

Clare  spoke  again,  this  time  at  length. 
Her  talk  was  of  the  change  that  Chicago  pre- 
sented to  her  after  her  long  absence  in  Euro- 
pean cities.  Yes,  she  said  in  reply  to  some  ques- 
tion from  Gertrude,  she'd  been  back  to 
America  a  time  or  two,  but  only  as  far  as  New 
York  and  Philadelphia,  and  once  she  had  spent 
a  few  days  in  Washington.  John  Bellew,  who, 
it  appeared,  was  some  sort  of  international 
banking  agent,  hadn't  particularly  wanted  her 
to  come  with  him  on  this  trip,  but  as  soon  as 
she  had  learned  that  it  would  probably  take  him 
as  far  as  Chicago,  she  made  up  her  mind  to 
come  anyway. 

"I  simply  had  to.  And  after  I  once  got 
here,  I  was  determined  to  see  someone  I  knew 


and  find  out  what  had  happened  to  everybody. 
I  didn't  quite  see  how  I  was  going  to  manage 
It,  but  I  meant  to.  Somehow.  I'd  just  about 
decided  to  take  a  chance  and  go  out  to  your 
house,  'Rene,  or  call  up  and  arrange  a  meet- 
ing, when  I  ran  Into  you.  What  luck!" 

Irene  agreed  that  It  was  luck.  "It's  the 
first  time  I've  been  home  for  five  years,  and 
now  I'm  about  to  leave.  A  week  later  and  I'd 
have  been  gone.  And  how  In  the  world  did  you 
find  Gertrude?" 

"In  the  book.  I  remembered  about 
Fred.  His  father  still  has  the  meat  mar- 

"Oh,  yes,"  said  Irene,  who  had  only 
remembered  It  as  Clare  had  spoken,  "on  Cot- 
tage Grove  near — " 

Gertrude  broke  In.  "No.  It's  moved. 
We're  on  Maryland  Avenue — used  to  be  Jack- 
son— now.  Near  Sixty-third  Street.  And  the 
market's  Fred's.  His  name's  the  same  as  his 

Gertrude,  Irene  thought,  looked  as  If 
her  husband  might  be  a  butcher.  There  was  left 



of  her  youthful  prettiness,  which  had  been  so 
much  admired  In  their  high-school  days,  no 
trace.  She  had  grown  broad,  fat  almost,  and 
though  there  were  no  lines  on  her  large  white 
face.  Its  very  smoothness  was  somehow  pre- 
maturely ageing.  Her  black  hair  was  dipt,  and 
by  some  unfortunate  means  all  the  live  curliness 
had  gone  from  It.  Her  over-trimmed  Geor- 
gette crepe  dress  was  too  short  and  showed  an 
appalling  amount  of  leg,  stout  legs  In  sleazy 
stockings  of  a  vivid  rose-beige  shade.  Her 
plump  hands  were  newly  and  not  too  compe- 
tently manicured — for  the  occasion,  probably. 
And  she  wasn't  smoking. 

Clare  said — and  Irene  fancied  that  her 
husky  voice  held  a  slight  edge — "Before  you 
came,  Irene,  Gertrude  was  telling  me  about  her 
two  boys.  Twins.  Think  of  It !  Isn't  It  too  mar- 
vellous for  words?" 

Irene  felt  a  warmness  creeping  Into  her 
cheeks.  Uncanny,  the  way  Clare  could  divine 
what  one  was  thinking.  She  was  a  little  put  out, 
but  her  manner  was  entirely  easy  as  she  said: 
"That  Is  nice.  I've  two  boys  myself,  Gertrude. 



Not  twins,  though.  It  seems  that  Clare's  rather 
behind,  doesn't  It?" 

Gertrude,  however,  wasn't  sure  that 
Clare  hadn't  the  best  of  It.  "She's  got  a  girl.  I 
wanted  a  girl.  So  did  Fred." 

"Isn't  that  a  bit  unusual?"  Irene  asked. 
"Most  men  want  sons.  Egotism,  I  suppose." 

"Well,  Fred  didn't." 

The  tea-things  had  been  placed  on  a  low 
table  at  Clare's  side.  She  gave  them  her  atten- 
tion now,  pouring  the  rich  amber  fluid  from  the 
tall  glass  pitcher  Into  stately  slim  glasses,  which 
she  handed  to  her  guests,  and  then  offered  them 
lemon  or  cream  and  tiny  sandwiches  or  cakes. 

After  taking  up  her  own  glass  she  in- 
formed them:  "No,  I  have  no  boys  and  I  don't 
think  I'll  ever  have  any.  I'm  afraid.  I  nearly 
died  of  terror  the  whole  nine  months  before 
Margery  was  born  for  fear  that  she  might  be 
dark.  Thank  goodness,  she  turned  out  all  right. 
But  I'll  never  risk  It  again.  Never !  The  strain 
Is  simply  too — too  hellish." 

Gertrude  Martin  nodded  in  complete 



This  time  it  was  Irene  who  said  noth- 

"You  don't  have  to  tell  me !"  Gertrude 
said  fervently.  ''I  know  what  it  is  all  right. 
Maybe  you  don't  think  I  wasn't  scared  to  death 
too.  Fred  said  I  was  silly,  and  so  did  his  mother. 
But,  of  course,  they  thought  it  was  just  a  no- 
tion I'd  gotten  into  my  head  and  they  blamed 
it  on  my  condition.  They  don't  know  like  we 
do,  how  it  might  go  way  back,  and  turn  out 
dark  no  matter  what  colour  the  father  and 
mother  are." 

Perspiration  stood  out  on  her  forehead. 
Her  narrow  eyes  rolled  first  in  Clare's,  then  in 
Irene's  direction.  As  she  talked  she  waved  her 
heavy  hands  about. 

"No,"  she  went  on,  "no  more  for  me 
either.  Not  even  a  girl.  It's  awful  the  way  it 
skips  generations  and  then  pops  out.  Why,  he 
actually  said  he  didn't  care  what  colour  it 
turned  out,  if  I  would  only  stop  worrying  about 
it.  But,  of  course,  nobody  wants  a  dark  child." 
Her  voice  was  earnest  and  she  took  for  granted 



that  her  audience  was  In  entire  agreement  with 

Irene,  whose  head  had  gone  up  with  a 
quick  little  jerk,  now  said  in  a  voice  of  whose 
even  tones  she  was  proud:  "One  of  my  boys 
IS  dark." 

Gertrude  jumped  as  if  she  had  been 
shot  at.  Her  eyes  goggled.  Her  mouth  flew 
open.  She  tried  to  speak,  but  could  not  imme- 
diately get  the  words  out.  Finally  she  managed 
to  stammer:  "Oh!  And  your  husband,  is  he — is 
he — er — dark,  too?" 

Irene,  who  was  struggling  with  a  flood 
of  feelings,  resentment,  anger,  and  contempt, 
was,  however,  still  able  to  answer  as  coolly  as 
if  she  had  not  that  sense  of  not  belonging  to 
and  of  despising  the  company  in  which  she 
found  herself  drinking  iced  tea  from  tall  am- 
ber glasses  on  that  hot  August  afternoon.  Her 
husband,  she  informed  them  quietly,  couldn't 
exactly  "pass." 

At  that  reply  Clare  turned  on  Irene  her 
seductive  caressing  smile  and  remarked  a  little 



scoffingly:  "I  do  think  that  coloured  people — 
we — are  too  silly  about  some  things.  After  all, 
the  thing's  not  Important  to  Irene  or  hundreds 
of  others.  Not  awfully,  even  to  you,  Gertrude. 
It's  only  deserters  like  me  who  have  to  be 
afraid  of  freaks  of  the  nature.  As  my  inesti- 
mable dad  used  to  say,  'Everything  must  be 
paid  for.'  Now,  please  one  of  you  tell  me  what 
ever  happened  to  Claude  Jones.  You  know,  the 
tall,  lanky  specimen  who  used  to  wear  that  com- 
ical little  moustache  that  the  girls  used  to  laugh 
at  so.  Like  a  thin  streak  of  soot.  The  mous- 
tache, I  mean." 

At  that  Gertrude  shrieked  with  laughter. 
^'Claude  Jones!"  and  launched  into  the  story  of 
how  he  was  no  longer  a  Negro  or  a  Christian 
but  had  become  a  Jew. 

"A  Jew!"  Clare  exclaimed. 

"Yes,  a  Jew.  A  black  Jew,  he  calls  him- 
self. He  won't  eat  ham  and  goes  to  the  syna- 
gogue on  Saturday.  He's  got  a  beard  now  as 
well  as  a  moustache.  You'd  die  laughing  if  you 
saw  him.  He's  really  too  funny  for  words.  Fred 
says  he's  crazy  and  I  guess  he  Is.  Oh,  he's  a 



scream  all  right,  a  regular  scream!"  And  she 
shrieked  again. 

Clare's  laugh  tinkled  out.  "It  certainly 
sounds  funny  enough.  Still,  it's  his  own  business. 
If  he  gets  along  better  by  turning — " 

At  that,  Irene,  who  was  still  hugging 
her  unhappy  don't-care  feeling  of  rightness, 
broke  In,  saying  bitingly:  "It  evidently  doesn't 
occur  to  either  you  or  Gertrude  that  he  might 
possibly  be  sincere  In  changing  his  religion. 
Surely  everyone  doesn't  do  everything  for 

Clare  Kendry  had  no  need  to  search  for 
the  full  meaning  of  that  utterance.  She  red- 
dened slightly  and  retorted  seriously:  "Yes,  I 
admit  that  might  be  possible — his  being  sincere, 
I  mean.  It  just  didn't  happen  to  occur  to  me, 
that's  all.  I'm  surprised,"  and  the  seriousness 
changed  to  mockery,  "that  you  should  have  ex- 
pected it  to.  Or  did  you  really?" 

"You  don't,  I'm  sure,  imagine  that  that 
Is  a  question  that  I  can  answer,"  Irene  told  her. 
"Not  here  and  now." 

Gertrude's  face  expressed  complete  be- 



wilderment.  However,  seeing  that  little  smiles 
had  come  out  on  the  faces  of  the  two  other 
women  and  not  recognizing  them  for  the  smiles 
of  mutual  reservations  which  they  were,  she 
smiled  too. 

Clare  began  to  talk,  steering  carefully 
away  from  anything  that  might  lead  towards 
race  or  other  thorny  subjects.  It  was  the  most 
brilliant  exhibition  of  conversational  weight- 
lifting  that  Irene  had  ever  seen.  Her  words 
swept  over  them  in  charming  well-modulated 
streams.  Her  laughs  tinkled  and  pealed.  Her 
little  stories  sparkled. 

Irene  contributed  a  bare  "Yes"  or 
"No"  here  and  there.  Gertrude,  a  "You  don't 
say!"  less  frequently. 

For  a  while  the  Illusion  of  general  con- 
versation was  nearly  perfect.  Irene  felt  her  re- 
sentment changing  gradually  to  a  silent,  some- 
what grudging  admiration. 

Clare  talked  on,  her  voice,  her  gestures, 
colouring  all  she  said  of  wartime  In  France,  of 
after-the-wartlme  In  Germany,  of  the  excite- 
ment at  the  time  of  the  general  strike  in  Eng- 



land,  of  dressmaker's  openings  in  Paris,  of  the 
new  gaiety  of  Budapest. 

But  It  couldn't  last,  this  verbal  feat. 
Gertrude  shifted  In  her  seat  and  fell  to  fidget- 
ing with  her  fingers.  Irene,  bored  at  last  by  all 
this  repetition  of  the  selfsame  things  that  she 
had  read  all  too  often  in  papers,  magazines,  and 
books,  set  down  her  glass  and  collected  her  bag 
and  handkerchief.  She  was  smoothing  out  the 
tan  fingers  of  her  gloves  preparatory  to  put- 
ting them  on  when  she  heard  the  sound  of  the 
outer  door  being  opened  and  saw  Clare  spring 
up  with  an  expression  of  relief  saying:  "How 
lovely!  Here's  Jack  at  exactly  the  right  minute. 
You  can't  go  now,  'Rene  dear." 

John  Bellew  came  Into  the  room.  The 
first  thing  that  Irene  noticed  about  him  was 
that  he  was  not  the  man  that  she  had  seen 
with  Clare  Kendry  on  the  Drayton  roof.  This 
man,  Clare's  husband,  was  a  talllsh  person, 
broadly  made.  His  age  she  guessed  to  be  some- 
where between  thirty-five  and  forty.  His  hair 
was  dark  brown  and  waving,  and  he  had  a  soft 
mouth,    somewhat   womanish,    set    In    an    un- 



healthy-looking  dough-coloured  face.  His  steel- 
grey  opaque  eyes  were  very  much  alive,  moving 
ceaselessly  between  thick  bluish  lids.  But  there 
was,  Irene  decided,  nothing  unusual  about  him, 
unless  it  was  an  Impression  of  latent  physical 

*'Hello,  Nig,"  was  his  greeting  to 

Gertrude  who  had  started  slightly,  set- 
tled back  and  looked  covertly  towards  Irene, 
who  had  caught  her  lip  between  her  teeth  and 
sat  gazing  at  husband  and  wife.  It  was  hard  to 
believe  that  even  Clare  Kendry  would  permit 
this  ridiculing  of  her  race  by  an  outsider, 
though  he  chanced  to  be  her  husband.  So  he 
knew,  then,  that  Clare  was  a  Negro?  From  her 
talk  the  other  day  Irene  had  understood  that 
he  didn't.  But  how  rude,  how  positively  Insult- 
ing, for  him  to  address  her  in  that  way  in  the 
presence  of  guests ! 

In  Clare's  eyes,  as  she  presented  her 
husband,  was  a  queer  gleam,  a  jeer.  It  might  be. 
Irene  couldn't  define  It. 

The  mechanical  professions  that  attend 


an  introduction  over,  she  inquired:  *'Did  you 
hear  what  Jack  called  me?'^ 

*'Yes,"  Gertrude  answered,  laughing 
with  a  dutiful  eagerness. 

Irene  didn't  speak.  Her  gaze  remained 
level  on  Clare's  smiling  face. 

The  black  eyes  fluttered  down.  *'Tell 
them,  dear,  why  you  call  me  that." 

The  man  chuckled,  crinkling  up  his  eyes, 
not,  Irene  was  compelled  to  acknowledge,  un- 
pleasantly. He  explained:  "Well,  you  see,  it's 
like  this.  When  we  were  first  married,  she  was 
as  white  as — as — well  as  white  as  a  lily.  But 
I  declare  she's  gettin'  darker  and  darker.  I  tell 
her  if  she  don't  look  out,  she'll  wake  up  one 
of  these  days  and  find  she's  turned  into  a 

He  roared  with  laughter.  Clare's  ring- 
ing bell-like  laugh  joined  his.  Gertrude  after 
another  uneasy  shift  in  her  seat  added  her 
shrill  one.  Irene,  who  had  been  sitting  with  lips 
tightly  compressed,  cried  out:  "That's  good!" 
and  gave  way  to  gales  of  laughter.  She  laughed 
and  laughed  and  laughed.  Tears  ran  down  her 



cheeks.  Her  sides  ached.  Her  throat  hurt.  She 
laughed  on  and  on  and  on,  long  after  the  oth- 
ers had  subsided.  Until,  catching  sight  of 
Clare's  face,  the  need  for  a  more  quiet  enjoy- 
ment of  this  priceless  joke,  and  for  caution, 
struck  her.  At  once  she  stopped. 

Clare  handed  her  husband  his  tea  and 
laid  her  hand  on  his  arm  with  an  affectionate 
little  gesture.  Speaking  with  confidence  as  well 
as  with  amusement,  she  said:  "My  goodness, 
Jack!  What  difference  would  it  make  if,  after 
all  these  years,  you  were  to  find  out  that  I  was 
one  or  two  per  cent  coloured?" 

Bellew  put  out  his  hand  in  a  repudiat- 
ing fling,  definite  and  final.  "Oh,  no.  Nig,"  he 
declared,  "nothing  like  that  with  me.  I  know 
you're  no  nigger,  so  it's  all  right.  You  can  get 
as  black  as  you  please  as  far  as  I'm  concerned, 
since  I  know  you're  no  nigger.  I  draw  the  line 
at  that.  No  niggers  in  my  family.  Never  have 
been  and  never  will  be." 

Irene's  lips  trembled  almost  uncontrol- 
lably, but  she  made  a  desperate  effort  to  fight 
back  her  disastrous  desire  to  laugh  again,  and 



succeeded.  Carefully  selecting  a  cigarette  from 
the  lacquered  box  on  the  tea-table  before  her, 
she  turned  an  oblique  look  on  Clare  and  en- 
countered her  peculiar  eyes  fixed  on  her  with 
an  expression  so  dark  and  deep  and  unfathom- 
able that  she  had  for  a  short  moment  the  sen- 
sation of  gazing  into  the  eyes  of  some  creature 
utterly  strange  and  apart.  A  faint  sense  of  dan- 
ger brushed  her,  like  the  breath  of  a  cold  fog. 
Absurd,  her  reason  told  her,  as  she  accepted 
Bellew's  proffered  light  for  her  cigarette.  An- 
other glance  at  Clare  showed  her  smiling.  So, 
as  one  always  ready  to  oblige,  was  Gertrude. 

An  on-looker,  Irene  reflected,  would 
have  thought  It  a  most  congenial  tea-party,  all 
smiles  and  jokes  and  hilarious  laughter.  She 
said  humorously :  ''So  you  dislike  Negroes,  Mr. 
Bellew?"  But  her  amusement  was  at  her 
thought,  rather  than  her  words. 

John  Bellew  gave  a  short  denying  laugh. 
"You  got  me  wrong  there,  Mrs.  Redfield. 
Nothing  like  that  at  all.  I  don't  dislike  them,  I 
hate  them.  And  so  does  Nig,  for  all  she's  try- 
ing to  turn  Into  one.  She  wouldn't  have  a  nigger 



maid  around  her  for  love  nor  money.  Not  that 
I'd  want  her  to.  They  give  me  the  creeps.  The 
black  scrlmy  devils.'' 

This  wasn't  funny.  Had  Bellew,  Irene 
inquired,  ever  known  any  Negroes?  The  defen- 
sive tone  of  her  voice  brought  another  start 
from  the  uncomfortable  Gertrude,  and,  for  all 
her  appearance  of  serenity,  a  quick  apprehen- 
sive look  from  Clare. 

Bellew  answered:  "Thank  the  Lord, 
no!  And  never  expect  to!  But  I  know  people 
who've  known  them,  better  than  they  know 
their  black  selves.  And  I  read  in  the  papers 
about  them.  Always  robbing  and  killing  people. 
And,"  he  added  darkly,  "worse." 

From  Gertrude's  direction  came  a  queer 
little  suppressed  sound,  a  snort  or  a  giggle. 
Irene  couldn't  tell  which.  There  was  a  brief 
silence,  during  which  she  feared  that  her  self- 
control  was  about  to  prove  too  frail  a  bridge 
to  support  her  mounting  anger  and  indignation. 
She  had  a  leaping  desire  to  shout  at  the  man 
beside  her:  "And you're  sitting  here  surrounded 
by  three  black  devils,  drinking  tea." 



The  impulse  passed,  obliterated  by  her 
consciousness  of  the  danger  in  which  such  rash- 
ness would  involve  Clare,  who  remarked  with 
a  gentle  reprovingness :  "Jack  dear,  I'm  sure 
'Rene  doesn't  care  to  hear  all  about  your  pet 
aversions.  Nor  Gertrude  either.  Maybe  they 
read  the  papers  too,  you  know."  She  smiled  on 
him,  and  her  smile  seemed  to  transform  him, 
to  soften  and  mellow  him,  as  the  rays  of  the 
sun  does  a  fruit. 

"All  right.  Nig,  old  girl.  I'm  sorry," 
he  apologized.  Reaching  over,  he  playfully 
touched  his  wife's  pale  hands,  then  turned  back 
to  Irene.  '^Didn't  mean  to  bore  you,  Mrs.  Red- 
field.  Hope  you'll  excuse  me,"  he  said  sheep- 
ishly. "Clare  tells  me  you're  living  in  New 
York.  Great  city.  New  York.  The  city  of  the 

In  Irene,  rage  had  not  retreated,  but 
was  held  by  some  dam  of  caution  and  allegiance 
to  Clare.  So,  in  the  best  casual  voice  she  could 
muster,  she  agreed  with  Bellew.  Though,  she 
reminded  him,  it  was  exactly  what  Chicagoans 
were  apt  to  say  of  their  city.  And  all  the  while 



she  was  speaking,  she  was  thinking  how  amaz- 
ing it  was  that  her  voice  did  not  tremble,  that 
outwardly  she  was  calm.  Only  her  hands  shook 
slightly.  She  drew  them  inward  from  their  rest 
in  her  lap  and  pressed  the  tips  of  her  fingers 
together  to  still  them. 

"Husband's  a  doctor,  I  understand. 
Manhattan,  or  one  of  the  other  boroughs?" 

Manhattan,  Irene  informed  him,  and 
explained  the  need  for  Brian  to  be  within  easy 
reach  of  certain  hospitals  and  clinics. 

"Interesting  life,  a  doctor's." 

"Ye-es.  Hard,  though.  And,  in  a  way, 
monotonous.  Nerve-racking  too." 

"Hard  on  the  wife's  nerves  at  least, 
eh?  So  many  lady  patients."  He  laughed,  en- 
joying, with  a  boyish  heartiness,  the  hoary 

Irene  managed  a  momentary  smile,  but 
her  voice  was  sober  as  she  said:  "Brian  doesn't 
care  for  ladies,  especially  sick  ones.  I  some- 
times wish  he  did.  It's  South  America  that  at- 
tracts him." 

"Coming  place,  South  America,  if  they 


ever  get  the  niggers  out  of  it.  It's  run  over — " 

^'Really,  Jack!"  Clare's  voice  was  on 
the  edge  of  temper. 

"Honestly,  Nig,  I  forgot."  To  the 
others  he  said:  "You  see  how  hen-pecked  I 
am."  And  to  Gertrude:  "You're  still  in  Chi- 
cago, Mrs. — er — Mrs.  Martin?" 

He  was,  it  was  plain,  doing  his  best  to 
be  agreeable  to  these  old  friends  of  Clare's. 
Irene  had  to  concede  that  under  other  condi- 
tions she  might  have  liked  him.  A  fairly  good- 
looking  man  of  amiable  disposition,  evidently, 
and  in  easy  circumstances.  Plain  and  with  no 
nonsense  about  him. 

Gertrude  replied  that  Chicago  was 
good  enough  for  her.  She'd  never  been  out  of  it 
and  didn't  think  she  ever  should.  Her  hus- 
band's business  was  there. 

"Of  course,  of  course.  Can't  jump  up 
and  leave  a  business." 

There  followed  a  smooth  surface  of 
talk  about  Chicago,  New  York,  their  differ- 
ences and  their  recent  spectacular  changes. 

It    was,    Irene,    thought,    unbelievable 



and  astonishing  that  four  people  could  sit  so 
unruffled,  so  ostensibly  friendly,  while  they 
were  In  reality  seething  with  anger,  mortifica- 
tion, shame.  But  no,  on  second  thought  she 
was  forced  to  amend  her  opinion.  John  Bellew, 
most  certainly,  was  as  undisturbed  within  as 
without.  So,  perhaps,  was  Gertrude  Martin.  At 
least  she  hadn't  the  mortification  and  shame 
that  Clare  Kendry  must  be  feeling,  or.  In  such 
full  measure,  the  rage  and  rebellion  that  she, 
Irene,  was  repressing. 

"More  tea,  'Rene,"  Clare  offered. 

^'Thanks,  no.  And  I  must  be  going.  I'm 
leaving  tomorrow,  you  know,  and  I've  still  got 
packing  to  do." 

She  stood  up.  So  did  Gertrude,  and 
Clare,  and  John  Bellew. 

"How  do  you  like  the  Drayton,  Mrs. 
Redfield?"  the  latter  asked. 

"The  Drayton?  Oh,  very  much.  Very 
much  Indeed,"  Irene  answered,  her  scornful 
eyes  on  Clare's  unrevealing  face. 

"Nice  place,  all  right.  Stayed  there  a 
time  or  two  myself,"  the  man  informed  her. 



"Yes,  Jt  is  nice,"  Irene  agreed.  "Almost 
as  good  as  our  best  New  York  places."  She  had 
withdrawn  her  look  from  Clare  and  was  search- 
ing in  her  bag  for  some  non-existent  something. 
Her  understanding  was  rapidly  increasing,  as 
was  her  pity  and  her  contempt.  Clare  was  so 
daring,  so  lovely,  and  so  "having." 

They  gave  their  hands  to  Clare  with 
appropriate  murmurs.  "So  good  to  have  seen 
you."  ...   "I    do    hope    I'll    see    you    again 


"Good-bye,"  Clare  returned.  "It  was 
good  of  you  to  come,  'Rene  dear.  And  you  too, 

"Good-bye,  Mr.  Bellew."  .  .  .  "So 
glad  to  have  met  you."  It  was  Gertrude  who 
had  said  that.  Irene  couldn't,  she  absolutely 
couldn't  bring  herself  to  utter  the  polite  fic- 
tion or  anything  approaching  it. 

He  accompanied  them  out  into  the  hall, 
summoned  the  elevator. 

"Good-bye,"  they  said  again,  stepping 

Plunging  downward  they  were  silent. 



They  made  their  way  through  the  lobby 
without  speaking. 

But  as  soon  as  they  had  reached  the 
street  Gertrude,  In  the  manner  of  one  unable 
to  keep  bottled  up  for  another  minute  that 
which  for  the  last  hour  she  had  had  to  retain, 
burst  out:  "My  God!  What  an  awful  chance! 
She  must  be  plumb  crazy." 

"Yes,  It  certainly  seems  risky,"  Irene  ad- 

"Risky!  I  should  say  It  was.  Risky!  My 
God !  What  a  word !  And  the  mess  she's  liable 
to  get  herself  Into !" 

"Still,  I  Imagine  she's  pretty  safe.  They 
don't  live  here,  you  know.  And  there's  a  child. 
That's  a  certain  security." 

"It's  an  awful  chance,  just  the  same," 
Gertrude  Insisted.  "I'd  never  In  the  world  have 
married  Fred  without  him  knowing.  You  can't 
tell  what  will  turn  up." 

"Yes,  I  do  agree  that  It's  safer  to  tell. 
But  then  Bellew  wouldn't  have  married  her. 
And,  after  all,  that's  what  she  wanted." 

Gertrude  shook  her  head.  "I  wouldn't 



be  in  her  shoes  for  all  the  money  she's  getting 
out  of  it,  when  he  finds  out.  Not  with  him  feel- 
ing the  way  he  does.  Gee!  Wasn't  it  awful? 
For  a  minute  I  was  so  mad  I  could  have 
slapped  him." 

It  had  been,  Irene  acknowledged,  a  dis- 
tinctly trying  experience,  as  well  as  a  very  un- 
pleasant one.  "I  was  more  than  a  little  angry 

"And  imagine  her  not  telling  us  about 
him  feeling  that  way !  Anything  might  have 
happened.  We  might  have  said  something." 

That,  Irene  pointed  out,  was  exactly 
like  Clare  Kendry.  Taking  a  chance,  and  not  at 
all  considering  anyone  else's  feelings. 

Gertrude  said:  "Maybe  she  thought 
we'd  think  it  a  good  joke.  And  I  guess  you  did. 
The  way  you  laughed.  My  land!  I  was  scared 
to  death  he  might  catch  on." 

"Well,  it  was  rather  a  joke,"  Irene  told 
her,  "on  him  and  us  and  maybe  on  her." 

"All  the  same,  it's  an  awful  chance.  I'd 
hate  to  be  her." 

"She  seems  satisfied  enough.  She's  got 



what  she  wanted,  and  the  other  day  she  told 
me  It  was  worth  It.'' 

But  about  that  Gertrude  was  sceptical. 
"She'll  find  out  different,"  was  her  verdict. 
"She'll  find  out  different  all  right." 

Rain  had  begun  to  fall,  a  few  scattered 
large  drops. 

The  end-of-the-day  crowds  were  scurry- 
ing In  the  directions  of  street-cars  and  elevated 

Irene  said:  "You're  going  south?  I'm 
sorry.  I've  got  an  errand.  If  you  don't  mind, 
I'll  just  say  good-bye  here.  It  has  been  nice 
seeing  you,  Gertrude.  Say  hello  to  Fred  for 
me,  and  to  your  mother  If  she  remembers  me. 

She  had  wanted  to  be  free  of  the  other 
woman,  to  be  alone;  for  she  was  still  sore  and 

What  right,  she  kept  demanding  of  her- 
self, had  Clare  Kendry  to  expose  her,  or  even 
Gertrude  Martin,  to  such  humiliation,  such 
downright  Insult? 

And  all  the  while,  on  the  rushing  ride 



out  to  her  father's  house,  Irene  Redfield  was 
trying  to  understand  the  look  on  Clare's  face 
as  she  had  said  good-bye.  Partly  mocking,  it 
had  seemed,  and  partly  menacing.  And  some- 
thing else  for  which  she  could  find  no  name. 
For  an  instant  a  recrudescence  of  that  sensa- 
tion of  fear  which  she  had  had  while  looking 
into  Clare's  eyes  that  afternoon  touched  her. 
A  slight  shiver  ran  over  her. 

"It's  nothing,"  she  told  herself.  "Just 
somebody  walking  over  my  grave,  as  the  chil- 
dren say."  She  tried  a  tiny  laugh  and  was  an- 
noyed to  find  that  it  was  close  to  tears. 

What  a  state  she  had  allowed  that  hor- 
rible Bellew  to  get  her  into ! 

And  late  that  night,  even,  long  after  the 
last  guest  had  gone  and  the  old  house  was 
quiet,  she  stood  at  her  window  frowning  out 
Into  the  dark  rain  and  puzzling  again  over  that 
look  on  Clare's  incredibly  beautiful  face.  She 
couldn't,  however,  come  to  any  conclusion 
about  Its  meaning,  try  as  she  might.  It  was  un- 
fathomable, utterly  beyond  any  experience  or 
comprehension  of  hers. 



She  turned  away  from  the  window,  at 
last,  with  a  still  deeper  frown.  Why,  after  all, 
worry  about  Clare  Kendry?  She  was  well  able 
to  take  care  of  herself,  had  always  been  able. 
And  there  were,  for  Irene,  other  things,  more 
personal  and  more  Important  to  worry  about. 

Besides,  her  reason  told  her,  she  had 
only  herself  to  blame  for  her  disagreeable  aft- 
ernoon and  Its  attendant  fears  and  questions. 
She  ought  never  to  have  gone. 


The  next  morning,  the  day  of  her  departure 
for  New  York,  had  brought  a  letter,  which,  at 
first  glance,  she  had  instinctively  known  came 
from  Clare  Kendry,  though  she  couldn't  re- 
member ever  having  had  a  letter  from  her  be- 
fore. Ripping  it  open  and  looking  at  the  signa- 
ture, she  saw  that  she  had  been  right  in  her 
guess.  She  wouldn't,  she  told  herself,  read  it. 
She  hadn't  the  time.  And,  besides,  she  had  no 
wish  to  be  reminded  of  the  afternoon  before. 
As  it  was,  she  felt  none  too  fresh  for  her  jour- 
ney; she  had  had  a  wretched  night.  And  all  be- 
cause of  Clare's  innate  lack  of  consideration 
for  the  feelings  of  others. 

But  she  did  read  it.  After  father  and 
friends  had  waved  good-bye,  and  she  was  be- 
ing hurled  eastward,  she  became  possessed  of 
an  uncontrollable  curiosity  to  see  what  Clare 
had  said  about  yesterday.  For  what,  she  asked, 
as  she  took  it  out  of  her  bag  and  opened  it, 



could  she,  what  could  anyone,  say  about  a  thing 
like  that? 

Clare  Kendry  had  said: 

'Rene  dear: 

However  am  I  to  thank  you  for  your  visit? 
I  know  you  are  feeling  that  under  the  circumstances 
I  ought  not  to  have  asked  you  to  come,  or,  rather,  in- 
sisted. But  if  you  could  know  how  glad,  how  excit- 
ingly happy,  I  was  to  meet  you  and  how  I  ached  to 
see  more  of  you  (to  see  everybody  and  couldn't),  you 
would  understand  my  wanting  to  see  you  again,  and 
maybe  forgive  me  a  little. 

My  love  to  you  always  and  always  and  to  your 
dear  father,  and  all  my  poor  thanks. 


And  there  was  a  postcript  which  said: 

It  may  be,  'Rene  dear,  it  may  just  be,  that, 
after  all,  your  way  may  be  the  wiser  and  infinitely  hap- 
pier one.  I'm  not  sure  just  now.  At  least  not  so  sure  as 
I  have  been. 


But  the  letter  hadn't  conciliated  Irene. 
Her  Indignation  was  not  lessened  by  Clare's 
flattering  reference  to  her  wiseness.  As  if,  she 



thought  wrathfully,  anything  could  take  away 
the  humiliation,  or  any  part  of  it,  of  what  she 
had  gone  through  yesterday  afternoon  for 
Clare  Kendry. 

With  an  unusual  methodicalness  she 
tore  the  offending  letter  into  tiny  ragged 
squares  that  fluttered  down  and  made  a  small 
heap  in  her  black  crepe  de  Chine  lap.  The  de- 
struction completed,  she  gathered  them  up,  rose, 
and  moved  to  the  train's  end.  Standing  there, 
she  dropped  them  over  the  railing  and  watched 
them  scatter,  on  tracks,  on  cinders,  on  forlorn 
grass,  in  rills  of  dirty  water. 

And  that,  she  told  herself,  was  that. 
The  chances  were  one  in  a  million  that  she 
would  ever  again  lay  eyes  on  Clare  Kendry.  If, 
however,  that  millionth  chance  should  turn  up, 
she  had  only  to  turn  away  her  eyes,  to  refuse 
her  recognition. 

She  dropped  Clare  out  of  her  mind  and 
turned  her  thoughts  to  her  own  affairs.  To 
home,  to  the  boys,  to  Brian.  Brian,  who  in  the 
morning  would  be  waiting  for  her  in  the  great 
clamourous  station.  She  hoped  that  he  had  been 



comfortable  and  not  too  lonely  without  her  and 
the  boys.  Not  so  lonely  that  that  old,  queer,  un- 
happy restlessness  had  begun  again  within  him; 
that  craving  for  some  place  strange  and  dif- 
ferent, which  at  the  beginning  of  her  marriage 
she  had  had  to  make  such  strenuous  efforts  to 
repress,  and  which  yet  faintly  alarmed  her, 
though  it  now  sprang  up  at  gradually  lessen- 
ing intervals. 




StJCH  WERE  Irene  Redfield's  memories  as  she 
sat  there  in  her  room,  a  flood  of  October  sun- 
light streaming  in  upon  her,  holding  that  sec- 
ond letter  of  Clare  Kendry's. 

Laying  it  aside,  she  regarded  with  an  as- 
tonishment that  had  in  it  a  mild  degree  of 
amusement  the  violence  of  the  feelings  which  it 
stirred  in  her. 

It  wasn't  the  great  measure  of  anger 
that  surprised  and  slightly  amused  her.  That, 
she  was  certain,  was  justified  and  reasonable, 
as  was  the  fact  that  it  could  hold,  still  strong 
and  unabated,  across  the  stretch  of  two  years' 
time  entirely  removed  from  any  sight  or  sound 
of  John  Bellew,  or  of  Clare.  That  even  at  this 
remote  date  the  memory  of  the  man's  words 
and  manner  had  power  to  set  her  hands  to 
trembling  and  to  send  the  blood  pounding 
against  her  temples  did  not  seem  to  her  extra- 
ordinary. But  that  she  should  retain  that  dim 



sense     of     fear,     of    panic,     was     surprising, 

That  Clare  should  have  written,  should, 
even  all  things  considered,  have  expressed  a 
desire  to  see  her  again,  did  not  so  much  amaze 
her.  To  count  as  nothing  the  annoyances,  the 
bitterness,  or  the  suffering  of  others,  that  was 

Well — Irene's  shoulders  went  up — one 
thing  was  sure :  that  she  needn't,  and  didn't 
intend  to,  lay  herself  open  to  any  repetition  of 
a  humiliation  as  galling  and  outrageous  as  that 
which,  for  Clare  Kendry's  sake,  she  had  borne 
"that  time  in  Chicago."  Once  was  enough. 

If,  at  the  time  of  choosing,  Clare  hadn't 
precisely  reckoned  the  cost,  she  had,  neverthe- 
less, no  right  to  expect  others  to  help  make 
up  the  reckoning.  The  trouble  with  Clare  was, 
not  only  that  she  wanted  to  have  her  cake  and 
eat  it  too,  but  that  she  wanted  to  nibble  at  the 
cakes  of  other  folk  as  well. 

Irene  Redfield  found  it  hard  to  sympa- 
thize with  this  new  tenderness,  this  avowed 
yearning  of  Clare's  for  "my  own  people." 



The  letter  which  she  just  put  out  of  her 
hand  was,  to  her  taste,  a  bit  too  lavish  in  its 
wordiness,  a  shade  too  unreserved  in  the  man- 
ner of  its  expression.  It  roused  again  that  old 
suspicion  that  Clare  was  acting,  not  consciously, 
perhaps — that  is,  not  too  consciously — but, 
none  the  less,  acting.  Nor  was  Irene  inclined 
to  excuse  what  she  termed  Clare's  downright 

And  mingled  with  her  disbelief  and  re- 
sentment was  another  feeling,  a  question.  Why 
hadn't  she  spoken  that  day?  Why,  in  the  face 
of  Bellew's  ignorant  hate  and  aversion,  had 
she  concealed  her  own  origin?  Why  had  she 
allowed  him  to  make  his  assertions  and  express 
his  misconceptions  undisputed?  Why,  simply 
because  of  Clare  Kendry,  who  had  exposed  her 
to  such  torment,  had  she  failed  to  take  up  the 
defence  of  the  race  to  which  she  belonged? 

Irene  asked  these  questions,  felt  them. 
They  were,  however,  merely  rhetorical,  as  she 
herself  was  well  aware.  She  knew  their  an- 
swers, every  one,  and  it  was  the  same  for  them 
all.   The  sardony  of  it!   She  couldn't  betray 



Clare,  couldn't  even  run  the  risk  of  appearing 
to  defend  a  people  that  were  being  maligned, 
for  fear  that  that  defence  might  in  some  infini- 
tesimal degree  lead  the  way  to  final  discovery  of 
her  secret.  She  had  to  Clare  Kendry  a  duty.  She 
was  bound  to  her  by  those  very  ties  of  race, 
which,  for  all  her  repudiation  of  them,  Clare 
had  been  unable  to  completely  sever. 

And  it  wasn't,  as  Irene  knew,  that  Clare 
cared  at  all  about  the  race  or  what  was  to  be- 
come of  it.  She  didn't.  Or  that  she  had  for  any 
of  its  members  great,  or  even  real,  affection, 
though  she  professed  undying  gratitude  for  the 
small  kindnesses  which  the  Westover  family 
had  shown  her  when  she  was  a  child.  Irene 
doubted  the  genuineness  of  it,  seeing  herself 
only  as  a  means  to  an  end  where  Clare  was 
concerned.  Nor  could  it  be  said  that  she  had 
even  the  slight  artistic  or  sociological  interest 
In  the  race  that  some  members  of  other  races 
displayed.  She  hadn't.  No,  Clare  Kendry  cared 
nothing  for  the  race.  She  only  belonged  to  It. 

"Not  another  damned  thing!"  Irene  de- 


clared  aloud  as  she  drew  a  fragile  stocking 
over  a  pale  beige-coloured  foot. 

"Aha  !  Swearing  again,  are  you,  madam  ? 
Caught  you  in  the  act  that  time." 

Brian  Redfield  had  come  into  the  room 
in  that  noiseless  way  which,  in  spite,  of  the 
years  of  their  life  together,  still  had  the  power 
to  disconcert  her.  He  stood  looking  down  on 
her  with  that  amused  smile  of  his,  which  was 
just  the  faintest  bit  supercilious  and  yet  was 
somehow  very  becoming  to  him. 

Hastily  Irene  pulled  on  the  other  stock- 
ing and  slipped  her  feet  into  the  slippers  beside 
her  chair. 

"And  what  brought  on  this  particular 
outburst  of  profanity?  That  is,  if  an  indulgent 
but  perturbed  husband  may  inquire.  The  mother 
of  sons  too !  The  times,  alas,  the  times !" 

"I've  had  this  letter,"  Irene  told  him. 
"And  I'm  sure  that  anybody'll  admit  it's  enough 
to  make  a  saint  swear.  The  nerve  of  her!" 

She  passed  the  letter  to  him,  and  in 
the  act  made  a  little  mental  frown.  For,  with 



a  nicety  of  perception,  she  saw  that  she  was 
doing  it  Instead  of  answering  his  question  with 
words,  so  that  he  might  be  occupied  while  she 
hurried  through  her  dressing.  For  she  was  late 
again,  and  Brian,  she  well  knew,  detested  that. 
Why,  oh  why,  couldn't  she  ever  manage  to  be 
on  time?  Brian  had  been  up  for  ages,  had  made 
some  calls  for  all  she  knew,  besides  having 
taken  the  boys  downtown  to  school.  And  she 
wasn't  dressed  yet;  had  only  begun.  Damn 
Clare !  This  morning  it  was  her  fault. 

Brian  sat  down  and  bent  his  head  over 
the  letter,  puckering  his  brows  slightly  in  his 
effort  to  make  out  Clare's  scrawl. 

Irene,  who  had  risen  and  was  standing 
before  the  mirror,  ran  a  comb  through  her 
black  hair,  then  tossed  her  head  with  a  light 
characteristic  gesture.  In  order  to  disarrange  a 
little  the  set  locks.  She  touched  a  powder-puff 
to  her  warm  olive  skin,  and  then  put  on  her 
frock  with  a  motion  so  hasty  that  It  was  with 
some  difficulty  properly  adjusted.  At  last  she 
was  ready,  though  she  didn't  Immediately  say 
so,  but  stood,  Instead,  looking  with  a  sort  of 



curious  detachment  at  her  husband  across  the 

Brian,  she  was  thinking,  was  extremely 
good-looking.  Not,  of  course,  pretty  or  effemi- 
nate; the  slight  irregularity  of  his  nose  saved 
him  from  the  prettiness,  and  the  rather  marked 
heaviness  of  his  chin  saved  him  from  the  ef- 
feminacy. But  he  was,  in  a  pleasant  masculine 
way,  rather  handsome.  And  yet,  wouldn't  he, 
perhaps,  have  been  merely  ordinarily  good- 
looking  but  for  the  richness,  the  beauty  of  his 
skin,  which  was  of  an  exquisitely  fine  texture 
and  deep  copper  colour. 

He  looked  up  and  said:  "Clare?  That 
must  be  the  girl  you  told  me  about  meeting  the 
last  time  you  were  out  home.  The  one  you 
went  to  tea  with?" 

Irene's  answer  to  that  was  an  inclina- 
tion of  the  head. 

"I'm  ready,"  she  said. 

They  were  going  downstairs,  Brian 
deftly,  unnecessarily,  piloting  her  round  the 
two  short  curved  steps,  just  before  the  centre 



"You're  not,"  he  asked,  "going  to  see 

His  words,  however,  were  In  reality  not 
a  question,  but,  as  Irene  was  aware,  an  admoni- 

Her  front  teeth  just  touched.  She  spoke 
through  them,  and  her  tones  held  a  thin  sar- 
casm. "Brian,  darling,  I'm  really  not  such  an, 
idiot  that  I  don't  realize  that  if  a  man  calls  me 
a  nigger,  it's  his  fault  the  first  time,  but  mine 
if  he  has  the  opportunity  to  do  It  again." 

They  went  Into  the  dining-room.  He 
drew  back  her  chair  and  she  sat  down  behind 
the  fat-bellied  German  coffee-pot,  which  sent 
out  Its  morning  fragrance,  mingled  with  the 
smell  of  crisp  toast  and  savoury  bacon,  In  the 
distance.  With  his  long,  nervous  fingers  he 
picked  up  the  morning  paper  from  his  own 
chair  and  sat  down. 

Zulena,  a  small  mahogany-coloured 
creature,  brought  In  the  grapefruit. 

They  took  up  their  spoons. 

Out  of  the  silence  Brian  spoke.  Blandly. 


''My  dear,  you  misunderstand  me  entirely.  I 
simply  meant  that  I  hope  you're  not  going  to 
let  her  pester  you.  She  will,  you  know,  if  you 
give  her  half  a  chance  and  she's  anything  at  all 
like  your  description  of  her.  Anyway,  they  al- 
ways do.  Besides,"  he  corrected,  "the  man,  her 
husband,  didn't  call  you  a  nigger.  There's  a 
difference,  you  know." 

"No,  certainly  he  didn't.  Not  actually. 
He  couldn't,  not  very  well,  since  he  didn't 
know.  But  he  would  have.  It  amounts  to  the 
same  thing.  And  I'm  sure  it  was  just  as  un- 

"U-mm,  I  don't  know.  But  it  seems  to 
me,"  he  pointed  out,  "that  you,  my  dear,  had 
all  the  advantage.  You  knew  what  his  opinion 
of  you  was,  while  he —  Well,  'twas  ever  thus. 
We  know,  always  have.  They  don't.  Not  quite. 
It  has,  you  will  admit,  it's  humorous  side,  and, 
sometimes,  its  conveniences." 

She  poured  the  coffee. 

"I  can't  see  It.  I'm  going  to  write  Clare. 
Today,  If  I  can  find  a  minute.  It's  a  thing  we 



might  as  well  settle  definitely,  and  immediately. 
Curious,  isn't  it,  that  knowing,  as  she  does,  his 
unqualified  attitude,  she  still — " 

Brian  interrupted:  "It's  always  that 
way.  Never  known  it  to  fail.  Remember  Al- 
bert Hammond,  how  he  used  to  be  for  ever 
haunting  Seventh  Avenue,  and  Lenox  Avenue, 
and  the  dancing-places,  until  some  'shine'  took 
a  shot  at  him  for  casting  an  eye  towards  his 
'sheba?'  They  always  come  back.  I've  seen  it 
happen  time  and  time  again." 

''But  why?"  Irene  wanted  to  know. 

"If  I  knew  that,  I'd  know  w^hat  race  is." 

"But  wouldn't  you  think  that  having 
got  the  thing,  or  things,  they  were  after,  and  at 
such  risk,  they'd  be  satisfied?  Or  afraid?" 

"Yes,"  Brian  agreed,  "you  certainly 
would  think  so.  But,  the  fact  remains,  they 
aren't.  Not  satisfied,  I  mean.  I  think  they're 
scared  enough  most  of  the  time,  when  they  give 
way  to  the  urge  and  slip  back.  Not  scared 
enough  to  stop  them,  though.  Why,  the  good 
God  only  knows." 



Irene  leaned  forward,  speaking,  she 
was  aware,  with  a  vehemence  absolutely  un- 
necessary, but  which  she  could  not  control. 

"Well,  Clare  can  just  count  me  out. 
I've  no  intention  of  being  the  link  between  her 
and  her  poorer  darker  brethren.  After  that 
scene  in  Chicago  too!  To  calmly  expect  me — " 
She  stopped  short,  suddenly  too  wrathful  for 

"Quite  right.  The  only  sensible  thing  to 
do.  Let  her  miss  you.  It's  an  unhealthy  busi- 
ness, the  whole  affair.  Always  is." 

Irene  nodded.  "More  coffee,"  she  of- 

"Thanks,  no."  He  took  up  his  paper 
again,  spreading  it  open  with  a  little  rattling 

Zulena  came  In  bringing  more  toast. 
Brian  took  a  slice  and  bit  into  it  with  that  audi- 
ble crunching  sound  that  Irene  disliked  so  in- 
tensely, and  turned  back  to  his  paper. 

She  said:  "It's  funny  about  ^passing.' 
We  disapprove  of  it  and  at  the  same  time  con- 
done It.  It  excites  our  contempt  and  yet  we 



rather  admire  It.  We  shy  away  from  it  with 
an  odd  kind  of  revulsion,  but  we  protect  it." 

"Instinct  of  the  race  to  survive  and  ex- 

"Rot !  Everything  can't  be  explained  by 
some  general  biological  phrase." 

"Absolutely  everything  can.  Look  at 
the  so-called  whites,  who've  left  bastards  all 
over  the  known  earth.  Same  thing  in  them.  In- 
stinct of  the  race  to  survive  and  expand." 

With  that  Irene  didn't  at  all  agree,  but 
many  arguments  in  the  past  had  taught  her  the 
futility  of  attempting  to  combat  Brian  on 
ground  where  he  was  more  nearly  at  home  than 
she.  Ignoring  his  unqualified  assertion,  she  slid 
away  from  the  subject  entirely. 

"I  wonder,"  she  asked,  "if  you'll  have 
time  to  run  me  down  to  the  printing-office.  It's 
on  a  Hundred  and  Sixteenth  Street.  I've  got  to 
see  about  some  handbills  and  some  more  tick- 
ets for  the  dance." 

"Yes,  of  course.  How's  it  going?  Every- 
thing all  set?" 

"Ye-es.  I  guess  so.  The  boxes  are  all 



sold  and  nearly  all  the  first  batch  of  tickets. 
And  we  expect  to  take  in  almost  as  much  again 
at  the  door.  Then,  there's  all  that  cake  to  sell. 
It's  a  terrible  lot  of  work,  though." 

"I'll  bet  it  is.  Uplifting  the  brother's 
no  easy  job.  I'm  as  busy  as  a  cat  with  fleas,  my- 
self." And  over  his  face  there  came  a  shadow. 
*'Lord!  how  I  hate  sick  people,  and  their  stupid, 
meddling  families,  and  smelly,  dirty  rooms,  and 
climbing  filthy  steps  In  dark  hallways." 

"Surely,"  Irene  began,  fighting  back  the 
fear  and  irritation  that  she  felt,  "surely — " 

Her  husband  silenced  her,  saying 
sharply:  "Let's  not  talk  about  it,  please."  And 
immediately,  in  his  usual,  slightly  mocking  tone 
he  asked:  "Are  you  ready  to  go  now?  I  haven't 
a  great  deal  of  time  to  wait." 

He  got  up.  She  followed  him  out  Into 
the  hall  without  replying.  He  picked  up  his  soft 
brown  hat  from  the  small  table  and  stood  a 
moment  whirling  it  round  on  his  long  tea- 
coloured  fingers. 

Irene,  watching  him,  was  thinking:  "It 
Isn't  fair,  It  isn't  fair."  After  all  these  years  to 



Still  blame  her  like  this.  Hadn't  his  success 
proved  that  she'd  been  right  in  insisting  that  he 
stick  to  his  profession  right  there  in  New  York? 
Couldn't  he  see,  even  now,  that  it  had  been 
best?  Not  for  her,  oh  no,  not  for  her — she  had 
never  really  considered  herself — but  for  him 
and  the  boys.  Was  she  never  to  be  free  of  it, 
that  fear  which  crouched,  always,  deep  down 
within  her,  stealing  away  the  sense  of  security, 
the  feeling  of  permanence,  from  the  life  which 
she  had  so  admirably  arranged  for  them  all, 
and  desired  so  ardently  to  have  remain  as  it 
was?  That  strange,  and  to  her  fantastic,  notion 
of  Brian's  of  going  off  to  Brazil,  which,  though 
unmentioned,  yet  lived  within  him;  how  it 
frightened  her,  and — yes,  angered  her  I 

"Well?"  he  asked  lightly. 

"I'll  just  get  my  things.  One  minute," 
she  promised  and  turned  upstairs. 

Her  voice  had  been  even  and  her  step 
was  firm,  but  in  her  there  was  no  slackening  of 
the  agitation,  of  the  alarms,  which  Brian's  ex- 
pression of  discontent  had  raised.  He  had  never 
spoken  of  his  desire  since  that  long-ago  time  of 



Storm  and  strain,  of  hateful  and  nearly  disas- 
trous quarrelling,  when  she  had  so  firmly  op- 
posed him,  so  sensibly  pointed  out  its  utter 
impossibility  and  its  probable  consequences  to 
her  and  the  boys,  and  had  even  hinted  at  a  dis- 
solution of  their  marriage  in  the  event  of  his 
persistence  in  his  idea.  No,  there  had  been,  in 
all  the  years  that  they  had  lived  together  since 
then,  no  other  talk  of  It,  no  more  than  there 
had  been  any  other  quarrelling  or  any  other 
threats.  But  because,  so  she  insisted,  the  bond 
of  flesh  and  spirit  between  them  was  so  strong, 
she  knew,  had  always  known,  that  his  dissatis- 
faction had  continued,  as  had  his  dislike  and 
disgust  for  his  profession  and  his  country. 

A  feeling  of  uneasiness  stole  upon  her 
at  the  inconceivable  suspicion  that  she  might 
have  been  wrong  in  her  estimate  of  her  hus- 
band's character.  But  she  squirmed  away  from 
it.  Impossible !  She  couldn't  have  been  wrong. 
Everything  proved  that  she  had  been  right. 
More  than  right,  if  such  a  thing  could  be.  And 
all,  she  assured  herself,  because  she  understood 
him  so  well,  because  she  had,  actually,  a  special 



talent  for  understanding  him.  It  was,  as  she 
saw  it,  the  one  thing  that  had  been  the  basis  of 
the  success  which  she  had  made  of  a  marriage 
that  had  threatened  to  fail.  She  knew  him  as 
well  as  he  knew  himself,  or  better. 

Then  why  worry?  The  thing,  this  dis- 
content which  had  exploded  into  words,  would 
surely  die,  flicker  out,  at  last.  True,  she  had  in 
the  past  often  been  tempted  to  believe  that  it 
had  died,  only  to  become  conscious,  in  some 
instinctive,  subtle  way,  that  she  had  been  merely 
deceiving  herself  for  a  while  and  that  it  still 
lived.  But  it  would  die.  Of  that  she  was  certain. 
She  had  only  to  direct  and  guide  her  man,  to 
keep  him  going  in  the  right  direction. 

She  put  on  her  coat  and  adjusted  her 

Yes,  it  would  die,  as  long  ago  she  had 
made  up  her  mind  that  it  should.  But  in  the 
meantime,  while  it  was  still  living  and  still  had 
the  power  to  flare  up  and  alarm  her,  it  would 
have  to  be  banked,  smothered,  and  something 
offered  in  Its  stead.  She  would  have  to  make 
some  plan,  some  decision,  at  once.  She  frowned, 



for  it  annoyed  her  intensely.  For,  though  tem- 
porary, it  would  be  important  and  perhaps  dis- 
turbing. Irene  didn't  like  changes,  particularly 
changes  that  affected  the  smooth  routine  of  her 
household.  Well,  it  couldn't  be  helped.  Some- 
thing would  have  to  be  done.  And  immediately. 

She  took  up  her  purse  and  drawing  on 
her  gloves,  ran  down  the  steps  and  out  through 
the  door  which  Brian  held  open  for  her  and 
stepped  into  the  waiting  car. 

*'You  know,"  she  said,  settling  herself 
into  the  seat  beside  him,  "I'm  awfuly  glad  to 
get  this  minute  alone  with  you.  It  does  seem 
that  we're  always  so  busy — I  do  hate  that — 
but  what  can  we  do?  I've  had  something  on  my 
mind  for  ever  so  long,  something  that  needs 
talking  over  and  really  serious  consideration." 

The  car's  engine  rumbled  as  it  moved 
out  from  the  kerb  and  into  the  scant  traffic  of 
the  street  under  Brian's  expert  guidance. 

She  studied  his  profile. 

They  turned  into  Seventh  Avenue.  Then 
he  said:  "Well,  let's  have  it.  No  time  like  the 
present  for  the  settling  of  weighty  matters." 



*'It's  about  Junior.  I  wonder  if  he  isn't 
going  too  fast  in  school?  We  do  forget  that 
he's  not  eleven  yet.  Surely  it  can't  be  good  for 
him  to — well,  if  he  is,  I  mean.  Going  too  fast, 
you  know.  Of  course,  you  know  more  about 
these  things  than  I  do.  You're  better  able  to 
judge.  That  is,  if  you've  noticed  or  thought 
about  it  at  all." 

*'I  do  wish,  Irene,  you  wouldn't  be  for 
ever  fretting  about  those  kids.  They're  all 
right.  Perfectly  all  right.  Good,  strong,  healthy 
boys,  especially  Junior.  Most  especially 

"We-11,  I  s'pose  you're  right.  You're 
expected  to  know  about  things  like  that,  and 
I'm  sure  you  wouldn't  make  a  mistake  about 
your  own  boy."  (Now,  why  had  she  said  that?) 
''But  that  isn't  all.  I'm  terribly  afraid  he's 
picked  up  some  queer  ideas  about  things — some 
things — from  the  older  boys,  you  know." 

Her  manner  was  consciously  light.  Ap- 
parently she  was  intent  of  the  maze  of  traffic, 
but  she  was  still  watching  Brian's  face  closely. 
On  it  was  a  peculiar  expression.  Was  it,  could 



It  possibly  be,  a  mixture  of  scorn  and  distaste? 

''Queer  Ideas?"  he  repeated.  "D'you 
mean  Ideas  about  sex,  Irene?" 

"Ye-es.  Not  quite  nice  ones.  Dreadful 
jokes,  and  things  like  that." 

"Oh,  I  see,"  he  threw  at  her.  For  a 
while  there  was  silence  between  them.  After  a 
moment  he  demanded  bluntly:  "Well,  what  of 
it?  If  sex  isn't  a  joke,  what  Is  It?  And  what  Is 
a  joke?" 

"As  you  please,  Brian.  He's  your  son, 
you  know."  Her  voice  was  clear,  level,  disap- 

"Exactly!  And  you're  trying  to  make  a 
molly-coddle  out  of  him.  Well,  just  let  me  tell 
you,  I  won't  have  it.  And  you  needn't  think 
I'm  going  to  let  you  change  him  to  some  nice 
kindergarten  kind  of  a  school  because  he's  get- 
ting a  little  necessary  education.  I  won't!  He'll 
stay  right  where  he  is.  The  sooner  and  the  more 
he  learns  about  sex,  the  better  for  him.  And 
most  certainly  if  he  learns  that  it's  a  grand 
joke,  the  greatest  in  the  world.  It'll  keep  him 
from  lots  of  disappointments  later  on." 



Irene  didn't  answer. 

They  reached  the  printing-shop.  She  got 
out,  emphatically  slamming  the  car's  door  be- 
hind her.  There  was  a  piercing  agony  of  misery 
In  her  heart.  She  hadn't  Intended  to  behave 
like  this,  but  her  extreme  resentment  at  his  at- 
titude, the  sense  of  having  been  wilfully  mis- 
understood and  reproved,  drove  her  to  fury. 

Inside  the  shop,  she  stilled  the  trembling 
of  her  lips  and  drove  back  her  rising  anger. 
Her  business  transacted,  she  came  back  to  the 
car  In  a  chastened  mood.  But  against  the  ar- 
mour of  Brian's  stubborn  silence  she  heard  her- 
self saying  In  a  calm,  metallic  voice:  "I  don't 
believe  I'll  go  back  just  now.  I've  remembered 
that  I've  got  to  do  something  about  getting 
something  decent  to  wear.  I  haven't  a  rag  that's 
fit  to  be  seen.  I'll  take  the  bus  downtown." 

Brian  merely  doffed  his  hat  In  that  mad- 
dening polite  way  which  so  successfully  curbed 
and  yet  revealed  his  temper. 

''Good-bye,"  she  said  bitlngly.  "Thanks 
for  the  lift,"  and  turned  towards  the  avenue. 

What,  she  wondered  contritely,  was  she 


to  do  next?  She  was  vexed  with  herself  for 
having  chosen,  as  it  had  turned  out,  so  clumsy 
an  opening  for  what  she  had  intended  to  sug- 
gest: some  European  school  for  Junior  next 
year,  and  Brian  to  take  him  over.  If  she  had 
been  able  to  present  her  plan,  and  he  had  ac- 
cepted it,  as  she  was  sure  that  he  would  have 
done,  with  other  more  favourable  opening 
methods,  he  would  have  had  that  to  look  for- 
ward to  as  a  break  in  the  easy  monotony  that 
seemed,  for  some  reason  she  was  wholly  un- 
able to  grasp,  so  hateful  to  him. 

She  was  even  more  vexed  at  her  own 
explosion  of  anger.  What  could  have  got  into 
her  to  give  way  to  it  in  such  a  moment? 

Gradually  her  mood  passed.  She  drew 
back  from  the  failure  her  first  attempt  at  sub- 
stitution, not  so  much  discouraged  as  disap- 
pointed and  ashamed.  It  might  be,  she  reflected, 
that,  in  addition  to  her  ill-timed  loss  of  temper, 
she  had  been  too  hasty  in  her  eagerness  to  dis- 
tract him,  had  rushed  too  closely  on  the  heels 
of  his  outburst,  and  had  thus  aroused  his  sus- 
picions and  his  obstinacy.  She  had  but  to  wait. 



Another  more  appropriate  time  would  come, 
tomorrow,  next  week,  next  month.  It  wasn't 
now,  as  It  had  been  once,  that  she  was  afraid 
that  he  would  throw  everything  aside  and  rush 
off  to  that  remote  place  of  his  heart's  desire. 
He  wouldn't,  she  knew.  He  was  fond  of  her, 
loved  her,  in  his  slightly  undemonstrative  way. 

And  there  were  the  boys. 

It  was  only  that  she  wanted  him  to  be 
happy,  resenting,  however,  his  inability  to  be 
so  with  things  as  they  were,  and  never  acknowl- 
edging that  though  she  did  want  him  to  be 
happy.  It  was  only  In  her  own  way  and  by  some 
plan  of  hers  for  him  that  she  truly  desired  him 
to  be  so.  Nor  did  she  admit  that  all  other  plans, 
all  other  ways,  she  regarded  as  menaces,  more 
or  less  Indirect,  to  that  security  of  place  and 
substance  which  she  Insisted  upon  for  her  sons 
and  in  a  lesser  degree  for  herself. 



Five  days  had  gone  by  since  Clare  Kendry's 
appealing  letter.  Irene  Redfield  had  not  replied 
to  it.  Nor  had  she  had  any  other  word  from 

She  had  not  carried  out  her  first  inten- 
tion of  writing  at  once  because  on  going  back 
to  the  letter  for  Clare's  address,  she  had  come 
upon  something  which,  in  the  rigour  of  her  de- 
termination to  maintain  unbroken  between  them 
the  wall  that  Clare  herself  had  raised,  she  had 
forgotten,  or  not  fully  noted.  It  was  the  fact 
that  Clare  had  requested  her  to  direct  her  an- 
swer to  the  post  office's  general  delivery. 

That  had  angered  Irene,  and  increased 
her  disdain  and  contempt  for  the  other. 

Tearing  the  letter  across,  she  had  flung 
it  into  the '  scrap-basket.  It  wasn't  so  much 
Clare's  carefulness  and  her  desire  for  secrecy  in 
their  relations — Irene  understood  the  need  for 
that — as  that  Clare  should  have  doubted  her 
discretion,  implied  that  she  might  not  be  cau- 



tious  in  the  wording  of  her  reply  and  the  choice 
of  a  posting-box.  Having  always  had  complete 
confidence  in  her  own  good  judgment  and  tact, 
Irene  couldn't  bear  to  have  anyone  seem  to 
question  them.  Certainly  not  Clare  Kendry. 

In  another,  calmer  moment  she  decided 
that  It  was,  after  all,  better  to  answer  nothing, 
to  explain  nothing,  to  refuse  nothing;  to  dis- 
pose of  the  matter  simply  by  not  writing  at  all. 
Clare,  of  whom  it  couldn't  be  said  that  she 
was  stupid,  would  not  mistake  the  imphcation 
of  that  silence.  She  might — and  Irene  was  sure 
that  she  would — choose  to  ignore  it  and  write 
again,  but  that  didn't  matter.  The  whole  thing 
would  be  very  easy.  The  basket  for  all  letters, 
silence  for  their  answers. 

Most  likely  she  and  Clare  would  never 
meet  again.  Well,  she,  for  one,  could  endure 
that.  Since  childhood  their  lives  had  never  really 
touched.  Actually  they  were  strangers.  Stran- 
gers in  their  ways  and  means  of  living.  Stran- 
gers in  their  desires  and  ambitions.  Strangers 
even  in  their  racial  consciousness.  Between  them 
the  barrier  was  just  as  high,  just  as  broad,  and 



just  as  firm  as  If  in  Clare  did  not  run  that  strain 
of  black  blood.  In  truth,  it  was  higher,  broader, 
and  firmer;  because  for  her  there  were  perils, 
not  known,  or  imagined,  by  those  others  who 
had  no  such  secrets  to  alarm  or  endanger  them. 

The  day  was  getting  on  toward  evening. 
It  was  past  the  middle  of  October.  There  had 
been  a  week  of  cold  rain,  drenching  the  rotting 
leaves  which  had  fallen  from  the  poor  trees 
that  lined  the  street  on  which  the  Redfields' 
house  was  located,  and  sending  a  damp  air  of 
penetrating  chill  into  the  house,  with  a  hint  of 
cold  days  to  come.  In  Irene's  room  a  low  fire 
was  burning.  Outside,  only  a  dull  grey  light  was 
left  of  the  day.  Inside,  lamps  had  already  been 

From  the  floor  above  there  was  the 
sound  of  young  voices.  Sometimes  Junior's  seri- 
ous and  positive;  again,  Ted's  deceptively  gra- 
cious one.  Often  there  was  laughter,  or  the 
noise  of  commotion,  tussling,  or  toys  being 
slammed  down. 

Junior,  tall  for  his  age,  was  almost  in- 


credibly  like  his  father  in  feature  and  colour- 
ing; but  his  temperament  was  hers,  practical 
and  determined,  rather  than  Brian's.  Ted, 
speculative  and  withdrawn,  was,  apparently, 
less  positive  in  his  ideas  and  desires.  About  him 
there  was  a  deceiving  air  of  candour  that  was, 
Irene  knew,  like  his  father's  show  of  reason- 
able acquiescence.  If,  for  the  time  being,  and 
with  a  charming  appearance  of  artlessness,  he 
submitted  to  the  force  of  superior  strength,  or 
some  other  immovable  condition  or  circum- 
stance, it  was  because  of  his  intense  dislike  of 
scenes  and  unpleasant  argument.  Brian  over 

Gradually  Irene's  thought  slipped  away 
from  Junior  and  Ted,  to  become  wholly  ab- 
sorbed in  their  father. 

The  old  fear,  with  strength  increased, 
the  fear  for  the  future,  had  again  laid  its  hand 
on  her.  And,  try  as  she  might,  she  could  not 
shake  it  off.  It  was  as  if  she  had  admitted  to 
herself  that  against  that  easy  surface  of  her 
husband's  concordance  with  her  wishes,  which 
had,  since  the  war  had  given  him  back  to  her 



physically  unimpaired,  covered  an  Increasing 
Inclination  to  tear  himself  and  his  possessions 
loose  from  their  proper  setting,  she  was  help- 

The  chagrin  which  she  had  felt  at  her 
first  failure  to  subvert  this  latest  manifestation 
of  his  discontent  had  receded,  leaving  In  Its 
wake  an  uneasy  depression.  Were  all  her  efforts, 
all  her  labours,  to  make  up  to  him  that  one  loss, 
all  her  silent  striving  to  prove  to  him  that  her 
way  had  been  best,  all  her  ministrations  to  him, 
all  her  outward  sinking  of  self,  to  count  for 
nothing  In  some  unpercelved  sudden  moment? 
And  If  so,  what,  then,  would  be  the  conse- 
quences to  the  boys?  To  her?  To  Brian  him- 
self? Endless  searching  had  brought  no  answer 
to  these  questions.  There  was  only  an  Intense 
weariness  from  their  shuttle-like  procession  In 
her  brain. 

The  noise  and  commotion  from  above 
grew  Increasingly  louder.  Irene  was  about  to  go 
to  the  stairway  and  request  the  boys  to  be 
quieter  In  their  play  when  she  heard  the  door- 
bell ringing. 



Now,  who  was  that  likely  to  be?  She 
listened  to  Zulena's  heels,  faintly  tapping  on 
their  way  to  the  door,  then  to  the  shifting  sound 
of  her  feet  on  the  steps,  then  to  her  light  knock 
on  the  bedroom  door. 

*'Yes.  Come  In,^'  Irene  told  her. 

Zulena  stood  In  the  doorway.  She  said: 
"Someone  to  see  you,  Mrs.  Redfield."  Her 
tone  was  discreetly  regretful,  as  If  to  convey 
that  she  was  reluctant  to  disturb  her  mistress 
at  that  hour,  and  for  a  stranger.  "A  Mrs.  Bel- 

Clare  I 

''Oh  dear!  Tell  her,  Zulena,"  Irene  be- 
gan, '*that  I  can't —  No.  I'll  see  her.  Please 
bring  her  up  here." 

She  heard  Zulena  pass  down  the  hall, 
down  the  stairs,  then  stood  up,  smoothing  out 
the  tumbled  green  and  Ivory  draperies  of  her 
dress  with  light  stroking  pats.  At  the  mirror 
she  dusted  a  little  powder  on  her  nose  and 
brushed  out  her  hair. 

She  meant  to  tell  Clare  Kendry  at  once, 
and  definitely,  that  It  was  of  no  use,  her  com- 



ing,  that  she  couldn't  be  responsible,  that  she'd 
talked  it  over  with  Brian,  who  had  agreed  with 
her  that  it  was  wiser,  for  Clare's  own  sake,  to 
refrain — 

But  that  was  as  far  as  she  got  in  her 
rehearsal.  For  Clare  had  come  softly  into  the 
room  without  knocking,  and  before  Irene  could 
greet  her,  had  dropped  a  kiss  on  her  dark 

Looking  at  the  woman  before  her,  Irene 
Redfield  had  a  sudden  inexplicable  onrush  of 
affectionate  feeling.  Reaching  out,  she  grasped 
Clare's  two  hand  in  her  own  and  cried  with 
something  like  awe  in  her  voice:  "Dear  God! 
But  aren't  you  lovely,  Clare!" 

Clare  tossed  that  aside.  Like  the  furs 
and  small  blue  hat  which  she  threw  on  the  bed 
before  seating  herself  slantwise  in  Irene's  fa- 
vourite chair,  with  one  foot  curled  under  her. 

"Didn't  you  mern  to  answer  my  letter, 
*Rene?"  she  asked  gravely. 

Irene  looked  away.  She  had  that  un- 
comfortable feeling  that  one  has  when  one  has 
not  been  wholly  kind  or  wholly  true. 



Clare  went  on:  ''Every  day  I  went  to 
that  nasty  little  post-office  place.  I'm  sure  they 
were  all  beginning  to  think  that  I'd  been  carry- 
ing on  an  illicit  love-affair  and  that  the  man  had 
thrown  me  over.  Every  morning  the  same  an- 
swer: 'Nothing  for  you.'  I  got  into  an  awful 
fright,  thinking  that  something  might  have 
happened  to  your  letter,  or  to  mine.  And  half 
the  nights  I  would  lie  awake  looking  out  at 
the  watery  stars — hopeless  things,  the  stars — 
worrying  and  wondering.  But  at  last  it  soaked 
in,  that  you  hadn't  written  and  didn't  Intend 
to.  And  then — well,  as  soon  as  ever  I'd  seen 
Jack  off  for  Florida,  I  came  straight  here.  And 
now,  'Rene,  please  tell  me  quite  frankly  why 
you  didn't  answer  my  letter." 

"Because,  you  see — "  Irene  broke  off 
and  kept  Clare  waiting  while  she  lit  a  cigarette, 
blew  out  the  match,  and  dropped  it  Into  a  tray. 
She  was  trying  to  collect  her  arguments,  for 
some  sixth  sense  warned  her  that  It  was  going 
to  be  harder  than  she  thought  to  convince  Clare 
Kendry  of  the  folly  of  Harlem  for  her.  Finally 
she  proceeded:  "I  can't  help  thinking  that  you 



ought  not  to  come  up  here,  ought  not  to  run 
the  risk  of  knowing  Negroes." 

"You  mean  you  don't  want  me,  'Rene?" 

Irene  hadn't  supposed  that  anyone  could 
look  so  hurt.  She  said,  quite  gently,  "No,  Clare, 
it's  not  that.  But  even  you  must  see  that  it's 
terribly  foolish,  and  not  just  the  right  thing." 

The  tinkle  of  Clare's  laugh  rang  out, 
while  she  passed  her  hands  over  the  bright 
sweep  of  her  hair.  "Oh,  'Rene!"  she  cried, 
"you're  priceless !  And  you  haven't  changed  a 
bit.  The  right  thing!"  Leaning  forward,  she 
looked  curiously  into  Irene's  disapproving 
brown  eyes.  "You  don't,  you  really  can't  mean 
exactly  that!  Nobody  could.  It's  simply  unbe- 

Irene  was  on  her  feet  before  she  real- 
ized that  she  had  risen.  "What  I  really  mean," 
she  retorted,  "is  that  it's  dangerous  and  that 
you  ought  not  to  run  such  silly  risks.  No  one 
ought  to.  You  least  of  all." 

Her  voice  was  brittle.  For  into  her 
mind  had  come  a  thought,  strange  and  irrele- 
vant,   a    suspicion,    that    had    surprised    and 



shocked  her  and  driven  her  to  her  feet.  It  was 
that  in  spite  of  her  determined  selfishness  the 
woman  before  her  was  yet  capable  of  heights 
and  depths  of  feeling  that  she,  Irene  Redfield, 
had  never  known.  Indeed,  never  cared  to  know. 
The  thought,  the  suspicion,  was  gone  as  quickly 
as  it  had  come. 

Clare  said:  '*0h,  me!" 
/         Irene  touched  her  arm  caressingly,  as  if 
in  contrition  for  that  flashing  thought.  "Yes, 
Clare,  you.  It's  not  safe.  Not  safe  at  all." 


It  seemed  to  Irene  that  Clare  had 
snapped  her  teeth  down  on  the  word  and  then 
flung  It  from  her.  And  for  another  flying  sec- 
ond she  had  that  suspicion  of  Clare's  ability  for 
a  quality  of  feeling  that  was  to  her  strange,  and 
even  repugnant.  She  was  aware,  too,  of  a  dim 
premonition  of  some  impending  disaster.  It  was 
as  If  Clare  Kendry  had  said  to  her,  for  whom 
safety,  security,  were  all-important:  "Safe! 
Damn  being  safe!"  and  meant  it. 

With  a  gesture  of  impatience  she  sat 
down.  In  a  voice  of  cool  formality,  she  said: 



''Brian  and  I  have  talked  the  whole  thing  over 
carefully  and  decided  that  it  isn't  wise.  He 
says  it's  always  a  dangerous  business,  this  com- 
ing back.  He's  seen  more  than  one  come  to 
grief  because  of  it.  And,  Clare,  considering 
everything — Mr.  Bellew's  attitude  and  all  that 
— don't  you  think  you  ought  to  be  as  careful  as 
you  can?" 

Clare's  deep  voice  broke  the  small  si- 
lence that  had  followed  Irene's  speech.  She 
said,  speaking  almost  plaintively:  *'I  ought  to 
have  known.  It's  Jack.  I  don't  blame  you  for 
being  angry,  though  I  must  say  you  behaved 
beautifully  that  day.  But  I  did  think  you'd 
understand,  'Rene.  It  was  that,  partly,  that  has 
made  me  want  to  see  other  people.  It  just 
swooped  down  and  changed  everything.  If  it 
hadn't  been  for  that,  I'd  have  gone  on  to  the 
end,  never  seeing  any  of  you.  But  that  did 
something  to  me,  and  I've  been  so  lonely  since! 
You  can't  know.  Not  close  to  a  single  soul. 
Never  anyone  to  really  talk  to." 

Irene  pressed  out  her  cigarette.  While 
doing  so,  she  saw  again  the  vision  of  Clare 



Kendry  staring  disdainfully  down  at  the  face  of 
her  father,  and  thought  that  it  would  be  like 
that  that  she  would  look  at  her  husband  if  he 
lay  dead  before  her. 

Her  own  resentment  was  swept  aside 
and  her  voice  held  an  accent  of  pity  as  she  ex- 
claimed: "Why,  Clare!  I  didn't  know.  For- 
give me.  I  feel  like  seven  beasts.  It  was  stupid 
of  me  not  to  realize." 

"No.  Not  at  all.  You  couldn't.  Nobody, 
none  of  you,  could,"  Clare  moaned.  The  black 
eyes  filled  with  tears  that  ran  down  her  cheeks 
and  spilled  into  her  lap,  ruining  the  priceless 
velvet  of  her  dress.  Her  long  hands  were  a  little 
uplifted  and  clasped  tightly  together.  Her  ef- 
fort to  speak  moderately  was  obvious,  but  not 
successful.  "How  could  you  know?  How  could  ' 
you?  You're  free.  You're  happy.  And,"  with 
faint  derision,  "safe." 

Irene  passed  over  that  touch  of  deri- 
sion, for  the  poignant  rebellion  of  the  other's 
words  had  brought  the  tears  to  her  own  eyes, 
though  she  didn't  allow  them  to  fall.  The  truth 
was  that  she  knew  weeping  did  not  become  her. 



Few  women,  she  imagined,  wept  as  attractively 
as  Clare.  I'^Tm  beginning  to  believe,"  she  mur- 
mured, "that  no  one  is  ever  completely  happy, 
or  free,  or  safe."  ) 

"Well,  tfien,  what  does  it  matter?  One 
risk  more  or  less,  if  we're  not  safe  anyway,  if 
even  you're  not,  it  can't  make  all  the  difference 
in  the  world.  It  can't  to  me.  Besides,  I'm  used 
to  risks.  And  this  isn't  such  a  big  one  as  you're 
trying  to  make  it." 

"Oh,  but  it  is.  And  it  can  make  all  the 
difference  in  the  world.  There's  your  little  girl, 
Clare.  Think  of  the  consequences  to  her." 

Clare's  face  took  on  a  startled  look,  as 
though  she  were  totally  unprepared  for  this 
new  weapon  with  which  Irene  had  assailed  her. 
Seconds  passed,  during  which  she  sat  with 
stricken  eyes  and  compressed  lips.  "I  think," 
she  said  at  last,  "that  being  a  mother  is  the 
cruellest  thing  in  the  world."  Her  clasped  hands 
swayed  forward  and  back  again,  and  her  scarlet 
mouth  trembled  irrepressibly. 

"Yes,"  Irene  softly  agreed.  For  a  mo- 
ment she  was  unable  to  say  more,  so  accurately 



had  Clare  put  into  words  that  which,  not  so 
definitely  defined,  was  so  often  in  her  own  heart 
of  late.  At  the  same  time  she  was  conscious  that 
here,  to  her  hand,  was  a  reason  which  could  not 
be  lightly  brushed  aside.  "Yes,"  she  repeated, 
"and  the  most  responsible,  Clare.  We  mothers 
are  all  responsible  for  the  security  and  happi- 
ness of  our  children.  Think  what  it  would  mean 
to  your  Margery  if  Mr.  Bellew  should  find  out. 
You'd  probably  lose  her.  And  even  if  you 
didn't,  nothing  that  concerned  her  would  ever 
be  the  same  again.  He'd  never  forget  that  she 
had  Negro  blood.  And  if  she  should  learn — 
Well,  I  believe  that  after  twelve  it  is  too  late 
to  learn  a  thing  like  that.  She'd  never  forgive 
you.  You  may  be  used  to  risks,  but  this  is  one 
you  mustn't  take,  Clare.  It's  a  selfish  whim,  an 
unnecessary  and — 

"Yes,  Zulena,  what  is  it?"  she  inquired, 
a  trifle  tartly,  of  the  servant  who  had  silently 
materialized  in  the  doorway. 

"The  telephone's  for  you,  Mrs.  Red- 
field.  It's  Mr.  Wentworth." 

"All    right.    Thank   you.    I'll    take    it 



here."  And,  with  a  muttered  apology  to  Clare, 
she  took  up  the  Instrument. 

^'Hello.  .  .  .  Yes,  Hugh.  ...  Oh, 
quite.  .  .  .  And  you?  .  .  .  I'm  sorry,  every 
single  thing's  gone.  .  .  .  Oh,  too  bad.  .  .  . 
Ye-es,  I  s'pose  you  could.  Not  very  pleasant, 
though.  .  .  .  Yes,  of  course.  In  a  pinch  every- 
thing goes.  .  .  .  Walt!  I've  got  It!  I'll  change 
mine  with  whoever's  next  to  you,  and  you  can 
have  that.  .  .  .  No.  ...  I  mean  It.  .  .  . 
I'll  be  so  busy  I  shan't  know  whether  I'm  sit- 
ting or  standing.  ...  As  long  as  Brian  has  a 
place  to  drop  down  now  and  then.  .  .  .  Not  a 
single  soul.  .  .  .  No,  don't.  .,  .  .  That's 
nice.  .  .  .  My  love  to  Blanca.  .  .  .  I'll  see 
to  It  right  away  and  call  you  back.  .  .  .  Good- 

She  hung  up  and  turned  back  to  Clare,  a 
little  frown  on  her  softly  chiselled  features. 
"It's  the  N.  W.  L.  dance,"  she  explained,  "the 
Negro  Welfare  League,  you  know.  I'm  on  the 
ticket  committee,  or,  rather,  I  am  the  com- 
mittee. Thank  heaven  It  comes  off  tomorrow 
night  and  doesn't  happen  again  for  a  year.  I'm 



about  crazy,   and  now  I've   got  to  persuade 
somebody  to  change  boxes  with  me." 

"That  wasn't,"  Clare  asked,  "Hugh 
Wentworth?  Not  the  Hugh  Wentworth?" 

Irene  incHned  her  head.  On  her  face 
was  a  tiny  triumphant  smile.  "Yes,  the  Hugh 
Wentworth.  D'you  know  him?" 

"No.  How  should  I?  But  I  do  know 
about  him.  And  I've  read  a  book  or  two  of 

"Awfully  good,  aren't  they?" 

"U-umm,  I  s'pose  so.  Sort  of  contemp- 
tuous, I  thought.  As  if  he  more  or  less  despised 
everything  and  everybody." 

"I  shouldn't  be  a  bit  surprised  if  he  did. 
Still,  he's  about  earned  the  right  to.  Lived  on 
the  edges  of  nowhere  in  at  least  three  conti- 
nents. Been  through  every  danger  in  all  kinds 
of  savage  places.  It's  no  wonder  he  thinks  the 
rest  of  us  are  a  lazy  self-pampering  lot.  Hugh's 
a  dear,  though,  generous  as  one  of  the  twelve 
disciples ;  give  you  the  shirt  off  his  back.  Bianca 
— that's  his  wife — is  nice  too." 



"And  he's  coming  up  here  to  your 

Irene  asked  why  not. 

"It  seems  rather  curious,  a  man  like 
that,  going  to  a  Negro  dance." 

This,  Irene  told  her,  was  the  year  1927 
in  the  city  of  New  York,  and  hundreds  of 
white  people  of  Hugh  Wentworth's  type  came 
to  affairs  in  Harlem,  more  all  the  time.  So 
many  that  Brian  had  said:  "Pretty  soon  the 
coloured  people  won't  be  allowed  in  at  all,  or 
will  have  to  sit  in  Jim  Crowed  sections." 

"What  do  they  come  for?" 

"Same  reason  you're  here,  to  see  Ne- 

"But  why?" 

"Various  motives,"  Irene  explained.  "A 
few  purely  and  frankly  to  enjoy  themselves. 
Others  to  get  material  to  turn  into  shekels. 
More,  to  gaze  on  these  great  and  near  great 
while  they  gaze  on  the  Negroes." 

Clare  clapped  her  hand.  "  'Rene,  sup- 
pose I  come  too !  It  sounds  terribly  Interesting 



and  amusing.  And  I  don't  see  why  I  shouldn't." 

Irene,  who  was  regarding  her  through 
narrowed  eyelids,  had  the  same  thought  that 
she  had  had  two  years  ago  on  the  roof  of  the 
Drayton,  that  Clare  Kendry  was  just  a  shade 
too  good-looking.  Her  tone  was  on  the  edge  of 
irony  as  she  said:  "You  mean  because  so  many 
other  white  people  go?" 

A  pale  rose-colour  came  Into  Clare's 
ivory  cheeks.  She  lifted  a  hand  In  protest. 
"Don't  be  silly!  Certainly  not!  I  mean  that  in 
a  crowd  of  that  kind  I  shouldn't  be  noticed." 

On  the  contrary,  was  Irene's  opinion. 
It  might  be  even  doubly  dangerous.  Some  friend 
or  acquaintance  of  John  Bellew  or  herself 
might  see  and  recognize  her. 

At  that,  Clare  laughed  for  a  long  time, 
little  musical  trills  following  one  another  in 
sequence  after  sequence.  It  was  as  if  the 
thought  of  any  friend  of  John  Bellew's  going 
to  a  Negro  dance  was  to  her  the  most  amusing 
thing  in  the  world. 

"I  don't  think,"  she  said,  when  she  had 
done  laughing,  "we  need  worry  about  that.'* 



'^ /  ^y  Irene,  however,  wasn't  so  sure.  But  all 
her  efforts  to  dissuade  Clare  were  useless.  To 
her,  "You  never  can  tell  whom  you're  likely  to 
meet  there,"  Clare's  rejoinder  was:  "I'll  take 
my  chance  on  getting  by." 

"Besides,  you  won't  know  a  soul  and  I 
shall  be  too  busy  to  look  after  you.  You'll  be 
bored  stiff." 

"I  won't,  I  won't.  If  nobody  asks  me  to 
dance,  not  even  Dr.  Redfield,  I'll  just  sit  and 
gaze  on  the  great  and  the  near  great,  too.  Do, 
'Rene,  be  polite  and  invite  me." 

Irene  turned  away  from  the  caress  of 
Clare's  smile,  saying  promptly  and  positively: 
"I  will  not." 

"I  mean  to  go  anyway,"  Clare  retorted, 
and  her  voice  was  no  less  positive  than  Irene's. 

"Oh,  no.  You  couldn't  possibly  go  there 
alone.  It's  a  public  thing.  All  sorts  of  people 
go,  anybody  who  can  pay  a  dollar,  even  ladies 
of  easy  virtue  looking  for  trade.  If  you  were 
to  go  there  alone,  you  might  be  mistaken  for 
one  of  them,  and  that  wouldn't  be  too  pleas- 




Clare  laughed  again.  "Thanks.  I  never 
have  been.  It  might  be  amusing.  I'm  warning 
you,  'Rene,  that  if  you're  not  going  to  be  nice 
and  take  me,  I'll  still  be  among  those  present. 
I  suppose,  my  dollar's  as  good  as  anyone's." 

"Oh,  the  dollar!  Don't  be  a  fool, 
Claire.  I  don't  care  where  you  go,  or  what  you 
do.  All  I'm  concerned  with  is  the  unpleasant- 
ness and  possible  danger  which  your  going 
might  incur,  because  of  your  situation.  To  put 
it  frankly,  I  shouldn't  like  to  be  mixed  up  in 
any  row  of  the  kind."  She  had  risen  again  as 
she  spoke  and  was  standing  at  the  window 
lifting  and  spreading  the  small  yellow  chrysan- 
themums in  the  grey  stone  jar  on  the  sill.  Her 
hands  shook  slightly,  for  she  was  in  a  near 
rage  of  impatience  and  exasperation. 

Claire's  face  looked  strange,  as  if  she 
wanted  to  cry  again.  One  of  her  satin-covered 
feet  swung  restlessly  back  and  forth.  She  said 
vehemently,  violently  almost:  "Damn  Jack! 
He  keeps  me  out  of  everything.  Everything  I 
want.  I  could  kill  him !  I  expect  I  shall,  some 



"I  wouldn't,"  Irene  advised  her,  "you 
see,  there's  still  capital  punishment,  In  this  state 
at  least.  And  really,  Clare,  after  everything's 
said,  I  can't  see  that  you've  a  right  to  put  all  the 
blame  on  him.  You've  got  to  admit  that  there's 
his  side  to  the  thing.  You  didn't  tell  him  you 
were  coloured,  so  he's  got  no  way  of  knowing 
about  this  hankering  of  yours  after  Negroes, 
or  that  It  galls  you  to  fury  to  hear  them  called 
niggers  and  black  devils.  As  far  as  I  can  see, 
you'll  just  have  to  endure  some  things  and  give 
up  others.  As  we've  said  before,  everything 
must  be  paid  for.  Do,  please,  be  reasonable." 

But  Clare,  It  was  plain,  had  shut  away 
reason  as  well  as  caution.  She  shook  her  head. 
"I  can't,  I  can't,"  she  said.  "I  would  If  I  could, 
but  I  can't.  You  don't  know,  you  can't  realize 
how  I  want  to  see  Negroes,  to  be  with  them 
again,  to  talk  with  them,  to  hear  them  laugh." 

And  In  the  look  she  gave  Irene,  there 
was  something  groping,  and  hopeless,  and  yet 
so  absolutely  determined  that  It  was  like  an 
Image  of  the  futile  searching  and  the  firm  reso- 
lution In  Irene's  own  soul,  and  Increased  the 



feeling  of  doubt  and  compunction  that  had 
been  growing  within  her  about  Clare  Kendry. 

She  gave  in. 

*'0h,  come  if  you  want  to.  I  s'pose 
you're  right.  Once  can't  do  such  a  terrible  lot 
of  harm." 

Pushing  aside  Clare's  extravagant 
thanks,  for  immediately  she  was  sorry  that  she 
had  consented,  she  said  briskly:  "Should  you 
like  to  come  up  and  see  my  boys?" 

"I'd  love  to." 

They  went  up,  Irene  thinking  that  Brian 
would  consider  that  she'd  behaved  like  a  spine- 
less fool.  And  he  would  be  right.  She  certainly 

Clare  was  smiling.  She  stood  in  the 
doorway  of  the  boys'  playroom,  her  shadowy 
eyes  looking  down  on  Junior  and  Ted,  who  had 
sprung  apart  from  their  tusselling.  Junior's  face 
had  a  funny  little  look  of  resentment.  Ted's 
was  blank. 

Clare  said:  "Please  don't  be  cross.  Of 
course,  I  know  I've  gone  and  spoiled  every- 



thing.  But  maybe,  If  I  promise  not  to  get  too 
much  in  the  way,  you'll  let  me  come  in,  just 
the  same." 

"Sure,  come  in  if  you  want  to,"  Ted  told 
her.  "We  can't  stop  you,  you  know."  He 
smiled  and  made  her  a  little  bow  and  then 
turned  away  to  a  shelf  that  held  his  favourite 
books.  Taking  one  down,  he  settled  himself  in 
a  chair  and  began  to  read. 

Junior  said  nothing,  did  nothing,  merely 
stood  there  waiting. 

"Get  up,  Ted!  That's  rude.  This  is 
Theodore,  Mrs.  Bellew.  Please  excuse  his  bad 
manners.  He  does  know  better.  And  this  is 
Brian  junior.  Mrs.  Bellew  is  an  old  friend  of 
mother's.  We  used  to  play  together  when  we 
were  little  girls." 

Clare  had  gone  and  Brian  had  tele- 
phoned that  he'd  been  detained  and  would  have 
his  dinner  downtown.  Irene  was  a  little  glad 
for  that.  She  was  going  out  later  herself,  and 
that  meant  she  wouldn't,  probably,  see  Brian 



until  morning  and  so  could  put  off  for  a  few 
more  hours  speaking  of  Clare  and  the  N.  W.  L. 

She  was  angry  with  herself  and  with 
Clare.  But  more  with  herself,  for  having  per- 
mitted Clare  to  tease  her  Into  doing  something 
that  Brian  had,  all  but  expressly,  asked  her  not 
to  do.  She  didn't  want  him  ruffled,  not  just 
then,  not  while  he  was  possessed  of  that  un- 
reasonable restless  feeling. 

She  was  annoyed,  too,  because  she  was 
aware  that  she  had  consented  to  something 
which,  if  It  went  beyond  the  dance,  would  In- 
volve her  In  numerous  petty  inconveniences  and 
evasions.  And  not  only  at  home  with  Brian,  but 
outside  with  friends  and  acquaintances.  The  dis- 
agreeable possibilities  in  connection  with  Clare 
Kendry's  coming  among  them  loomed  before 
her  In  endless  irritating  array. 

Clare,  It  seemed,  still  retained  her  abil- 
ity to  secure  the  thing  that  she  wanted  in  the 
face  of  any  opposition,  and  in  utter  disregard 
of  the  convenience  and  desire  of  others.  About 
her  there  was  some  quality,  hard  and  persistent, 



with  the  strength  and  endurance  of  rock,  that 
would  not  be  beaten  or  ignored.  She  couldn't, 
Irene  thought,  have  had  an  entirely  serene  life. 
Not  with  that  dark  secret  for  ever  crouching 
in  the  background  of  her  consciousness.  And 
yet  she  hadn't  the  air  of  a  woman  whose  life 
had  been  touched  by  uncertainty  or  suffering. 
Pain,  fear,  and  grief  were  things  that  left  their 
mark  on  people.  Even  love,  that  exquisite  tor- 
turing emotion,  left  its  subtle  traces  on  the 

But  Clare — she  had  remained  almost 
what  she  had  always  been,  an  attractive,  some- 
what lonely  child — selfish,  wilful,  and  disturb- 


The  things  which  Irene  Redfield  remembered 
afterward  about  the  Negro  Welfare  League 
dance  seemed,  to  her,  unimportant  and  unre- 

She  remembered  the  not  quite  derisive 
smile  with  which  Brian  had  cloaked  his  vexa- 
tion when  she  informed  him — oh,  so  apologet- 
ically— that  she  had  promised  to  take  Clare, 
and  related  the  conversation  of  her  visit. 

She  remembered  her  ov/n  little  choked 
exclamation  of  admiration,  when,  on  coming 
downstairs  a  few  minutes  later  than  she  had 
intended,  she  had  rushed  into  the  living-room 
where  Brian  was  waiting  and  had  found  Clare 
there  too.  Clare,  exquisite,  golden,  fragrant, 
flaunting,  in  a  stately  gown  of  shining  black 
taffeta,  whose  long,  full  skirt  lay  in  graceful 
folds  about  her  slim  golden  feet;  her  glisten- 
ing hair  drawn  smoothly  back  into  a  small 
twist  at  the  nape  of  her  neck;  her  eyes  spar- 



kllng  like  dark  jewels.  Irene,  with  her  new  rose- 
coloured  chiffon  frock  ending  at  the  knees,  and 
her  cropped  curls,  felt  dowdy  and  common- 
place. She  regretted  that  she  hadn't  counselled 
Clare  to  wear  something  ordinary  and  incon- 
spicuous. What  on  earth  would  Brian  think  of 
deliberate  courting  of  attention?  But  if  Clare 
Kendry's  appearance  had  in  it  anything  that 
was,  to  Brian  Redfield,  annoying  or  displeasing, 
the  fact  was  not  discernible  to  his  wife  as,  with 
an  uneasy  feeling  of  guilt,  she  stood  there  look- 
ing into  his  face  while  Clare  explained  that  she 
and  he  had  made  their  own  introductions,  ac- 
companying her  words  with  a  little  deferential 
smile  for  Brian,  and  receiving  in  return  one  of 
his  amused,  slightly  mocking  smiles. 

She  remembered  Clare's  saying,  as  they 
sped  northward:  "You  know,  I  feel  exactly  as 
I  used  to  on  the  Sunday  we  went  to  the  Christ- 
mas-tree celebration.  I  knew  there  was  to  be  a 
surprise  for  me  and  couldn't  quite  guess  what 
it  was  to  be.  I  am  so  excited.  You  can't  possibly 
imagine !  It's  marvellous  to  be  really  on  the 
way!  I  can  hardly  believe  it!" 



At  her  words  and  tone  a  chilly  wave  of 
scorn  had  crept  through  Irene.  All  those  super- 
latives !  She  said,  taking  care  to  speak  indiffer- 
ently: "Well,  maybe  in  some  ways  you  will  be 
surprised,  more,  probably,  than  you  anticipate." 

Brian,  at  the  wheel,  had  thrown  back: 
"And  then  again,  she  won't  be  so  very  sur- 
prised after  all,  for  it'll  no  doubt  be  about  what 
she  expects.  Like  the  Christmas-tree." 

She  remembered  rushing  around  here 
and  there,  consulting  with  this  person  and  that 
one,  and  now  and  then  snatching  a  part  of  a 
dance  with  some  man  whose  dancing  she  par- 
ticularly liked. 

She  remembered  catching  glimpses  of 
Clare  in  the  whirling  crowd,  dancing,  some- 
times with  a  white  man,  more  often  with  a 
Negro,  frequently  with  Brian.  Irene  was  glad 
that  he  was  being  nice  to  Clare,  and  glad  that 
Clare  was  having  the  opportunity  to  discover 
that  some  coloured  men  were  superior  to  some 
white  men. 

She  remembered  a  conversation  she  had 
with  Hugh  Wentworth  in  a  free  half-hour  when 



she  had  dropped  into  a  chair  in  an  emptied  box 
and  let  her  gaze  wander  over  the  bright  crowd 

Young  men,  old  men,  white  men,  black 
men;  youthful  women,  older  women,  pink 
women,  golden  women;  fat  men,  thin  men,  tall 
men,  short  men;  stout  women,  slim  women, 
stately  women,  small  women  moved  by.  An  old 
nursery  rhyme  popped  into  her  head.  She 
turned  to  Wentworth,  who  had  just  taken  a 
seat  beside  her,  and  recited  it: 

''Rich  man,  poor  man, 
Beggar  man,   thief, 
Doctor,  lawyer, 
Indian  chief." 

'Tes,"  Wentworth  said,  "that's  it. 
Everybody  seems  to  be  here  and  a  few  more. 
But  what  I'm  trying  to  find  out  is  the  name, 
status,  and  race  of  the  blonde  beauty  out  of  the 
fairy-tale.  She's  dancing  with  Ralph  Hazelton 
at  the  moment.  Nice  study  in  contrasts,  that." 

It  was.  Clare  fair  and  golden,  like  a 
sunlit  day.  Hazelton  dark,  with  gleaming  eyes, 
like  a  moonlit  night. 



"She's  a  girl  I  used  to  know  a  long 
time  ago  In  Chicago.  And  she  wanted  especially 
to  meet  you." 

"  'S  awfully  good  of  her,  Fm  sure.  And 
now,  alas !  the  usual  thing's  happened.  All  these 
others,  these — er — 'gentlemen  of  colour'  have 
driven  a  mere  Nordic  from  her  mind." 


"  'S  a  fact,  and  what  happens  to  all  the 
ladles  of  my  superior  race  who're  lured  up 
here.  Look  at  Blanca.  Have  I  laid  eyes  on  her 
tonight  except  In  spots,  here  and  there,  being 
twirled  about  by  some  Ethiopian?  I  have  not." 

"But,  Hugh,  you've  got  to  admit  that 
the  average  coloured  man  is  a  better  dancer 
than  the  average  white  man — that  Is,  If  the 
celebrities  and  'butter  and  egg'  men  who  find 
their  way  up  here  are  fair  specimens  of  white 
Terpslchorean  art." 

"Not  having  tripped  the  light  fantastic 
with  any  of  the  males,  I'm  not  In  a  position  to 
argue  the  point.  But  I  don't  think  It's  merely 
that.  'S  something  else,  some  other  attraction. 
They're  always  raving  about  the  good  looks  of 



some  Negro,  preferably  an  unusually  dark  one. 
Take  Hazelton  there,  for  example.  Dozens  of 
women  have  declared  him  to  be  fascinatingly 
handsome.  How  about  you,  Irene?  Do  you 
think  he's — er — ravishingly  beautiful?" 

"I  do  not!  And  I  don't  think  the 
others  do  either.  Not  honestly,  I  mean.  I  think 
that  what  they  feel  Is — well,  a  kind  of  emo- 
tional excitement.  You  know,  the  sort  of  thing 
you  feel  in  the  presence  of  something  strange, 
and  even,  perhaps,  a  bit  repugnant  to  you; 
something  so  different  that  it's  really  at  the 
opposite  end  of  the  pole  from  all  your  accus- 
tomed notions  of  beauty." 

"Damned  if  I  don't  think  you're  half- 
way right!" 

"I'm  sure  I  am.  Completely.  (Except, 
of  course,  when  it's  just  patronizing  kindness 
on  their  part.)  And  I  know  coloured  girls 
who've  experienced  the  same  thing — the  other 
way  round,  naturally." 

"And  the  men?  You  don't  subscribe  to 
the  general  opinion  about  their  reason  for  com- 
ing up  here.  Purely  predatory.  Or,  do  you?" 



"N-no.  More  curious,  I  should  say." 

Wentworth,  whose  eyes  were  a  clouded 
amber  colour,  had  given  her  a  long,  searching 
look  that  was  really  a  stare.  He  said:  "All 
this  is  awfully  interestin',  Irene.  We've  got  to 
havw.  a  long  talk  about  it  some  time  soon. 
There's  your  friend  from  Chicago,  first  time  up 
here  and  all  that.  A  case  in  point." 

Irene's  smile  had  only  just  lifted  the 
corners  of  her  painted  lips.  A  match  blazed  in 
Wentworth's  broad  hands  as  he  lighted  her 
cigarette  and  his  own,  and  flickered  out  before 
he  asked:  ''Or  isn't  she?" 

Her  smile  changed  to  a  laugh.  "Oh, 
Hugh!  You're  so  clever.  You  usually  know 
everything.  Even  how  to  tell  the  sheep  from 
the  goats.  What  do  you  think?  Is  she?" 

He  blew  a  long  contemplative  wreath 
of  smoke.  "Damned  if  I  know!  I'll  be  as  sure 
as  anything  that  I've  learned  the  trick.  And 
then  In  the  next  minute  I'll  find  I  couldn't  pick 
some  of  'em  if  my  life  depended  on  It." 

"Well,  don't  let  that  worry  you.  No- 
body can.  Not  by  looking.'* 



"Not  by  looking,  eh?  Meaning?" 

"I'm  afraid  I  can't  explain.  Not  clearly. 
There  are  ways.  But  they're  not  definite  or 

"Feeling  of  kinship,  or  something  like 

"Good  heavens,  no !  Nobody  has  that, 
except  for  their  in-laws." 

"Right  again  1  But  go  on  about  the  sheep 
and  the  goats." 

"Well,  take  my  own  experience  with 
Dorothy  Thompkins.  I'd  met  her  four  or  five 
times,  in  groups  and  crowds  of  people,  before 
I  knew  she  wasn't  a  Negro.  One  day  I  went  to 
an  awful  tea,  terribly  dicty.  Dorothy  was  there. 
We  got  talking.  In  less  than  five  minutes,  I 
knew  she  was  'fay.'  Not  from  anything  she  did 
or  said  or  anything  In  her  appearance.  Just — 
just  something.  A  thing  that  couldn't  be  regis- 

"Yes,  I  understand  what  you  mean. 
Yet  lots  of  people  'pass'  all  the  time." 

"Not  on  our  side,  Hugh.  It's  easy  for 
a  Negro  to  'pass'  for  white.  But  I  don't  think 



it  would  be  so  simple  for  a  white  person  to 
*pass'  for  coloured." 

*'Never  thought  of  that." 

"No,  you  wouldn't.  Why  should  you?" 

He  regarded  her  critically  through  mists 
of  smoke.  "Slippln'  me,  Irene?" 

She  said  soberly:  "Not  you,  Hugh.  I'm 
too  fond  of  you.  And  you're  too  sincere." 

And  she  remembered  that  towards  the 
end  of  the  dance  Brian  had  come  to  her  and 
said:  "I'll  drop  you  first  and  then  run  Clare 
down."  And  that  he  had  been  doubtful  of  her 
discretion  when  she  had  explained  to  him  that 
he  wouldn't  have  to  bother  because  she  had 
asked  Bianca  Wentworth  to  take  her  down 
with  them.  Did  she,  he  had  asked,  think  It  had 
been  wise  to  tell  them  about  Clare? 

"I  told  them  nothing,"  she  said  sharply, 
for  she  was  unbearably  tired,  "except  that  she 
was  at  the  Walsingham.  It's  on  their  way.  And, 
really,  I  haven't  thought  anything  about  the 
wisdom  of  it,  but  now  that  I  do,  I'd  say  it's 
much  better  for  them  to  take  her  than  you.'* 

"As  you  please.  She's  your  friend,  you 


know/'  he  had  answered,  with  a  disclaiming 
shrug  of  his  shoulders. 

Except  for  these  few  unconnected  things 
the  dance  faded  to  a  blurred  memory,  its  out- 
lines mingling  with  those  of  other  dances  of  its 
kind  that  she  had  attended  in  the  past  and 
would  attend  in  the  future. 


But  undistinctive  as  the  dance  had  seemed, 
it  was,  nevertheless,  Important.  For  It  marked 
the  beginning  of  a  new  factor  In  Irene  Redfield's 
life,  something  that  left  its  trace  on  all 
the  future  years  of  her  existence.  It  was  the 
beginning  of  a  new  friendship  with  Clare  Ken- 

She  came  to  them  frequently  after  that. 
Always  with  a  touching  gladness  that  welled 
up  and  overflowed  on  all  the  Redfield  house- 
hold. Yet  Irene  could  never  be  sure  whether 
her  comings  were  a  joy  or  a  vexation. 

Certainly  she  was  no  trouble.  She  had 
not  to  be  entertained,  or  even  noticed — if  any- 
one could  ever  avoid  noticing  Clare.  If  Irene 
happened  to  be  out  or  occupied,  Clare  could 
very  happily  amuse  herself  with  Ted  and 
Junior,  who  had  conceived  for  her  an  admira- 
tion that  verged  on  adoration,  especially  Ted. 
Or,  lacking  the  boys,  she  would  descend  to  the 
kitchen  and,  with — to  Irene — an  exasperating 



childlike  lack  of  perception,  spend  her  visit  in 
talk  and  merriment  with  Zulena  and  Sadie. 

Irene,  while  secretly  resenting  these 
visits  to  the  playroom  and  kitchen,  for  some  ob- 
scure reason  which  she  shied  away  from  putting 
into  words,  never  requested  that  Clare  make  an 
end  of  them,  or  hinted  that  she  wouldn't  have 
spoiled  her  own  Margery  so  outrageously,  nor 
been  so  friendly  with  white  servants. 

Brian  looked  on  these  things  with  the 
same  tolerant  amusement  that  marked  his  entire 
attitude  toward  Clare.  Never  since  his  faintly 
derisive  surprise  at  Irene's  information  that 
she  was  to  go  with  them  the  night  of  the  dance, 
had  he  shown  any  disapproval  of  Clare's  pres- 
ence. On  the  other  hand,  it  couldn't  be  said 
that  her  presence  seemed  to  please  him.  It 
didn't  annoy  or  disturb  him,  so  far  as  Irene 
could  judge.  That  was  all. 

Didn't  he,  she  once  asked  him,  think 
Clare  was  extraordinarily  beautiful? 

*'No,"  he  had  answered.  "That  is,  not 

"Brian,  you're  fooling!" 



"No,  honestly.  Maybe  Fm  fussy.  I 
s'pose  she'd  be  an  unusually  good-looking  white 
woman.  I  like  my  ladies  darker.  Beside  an  A- 
number-one  sheba,  she  simply  hasn't  got  'em." 

Clare  went,  sometimes  with  Irene  and 
Brian,  to  parties  and  dances,  and  on  a  few 
occasions  when  Irene  hadn't  been  able  or  in- 
clined to  go  out,  she  had  gone  alone  with  Brian 
to  some  bridge  party  or  benefit  dance. 

Once  in  a  while  she  came  formally  to 
dine  with  them.  She  wasn't,  however,  in  spite 
of  her  poise  and  air  of  worldliness,  the  ideal 
dinner-party  guest.  Beyond  the  aesthetic  pleas- 
ure one  got  from  watching  her,  she  contributed 
little,  sitting  for  the  most  part  silent,  an  odd 
dreaming  look  in  her  hypnotic  eyes.  Though  she 
could  for  some  purpose  of  her  own — the  desire 
to  be  included  in  some  party  being  made  up  to 
go  cabareting,  or  an  invitation  to  a  dance  or  a 
tea — talk  fluently  and  entertainingly. 

She  was  generally  liked.  She  was  so 
friendly  and  responsive,  and  so  ready  to  press 
the  sweet  food  of  flattery  on  all.  Nor  did  she 
object  to  appearing  a  bit  pathetic  and  ill-used, 



SO  that  people  could  feel  sorry  for  her.  And,  no 
matter  how  often  she  came  among  them,  she 
still  remained  someone  apart,  a  little  mysteri- 
ous and  strange,  someone  to  wonder  about  and 
to  admire  and  to  pity. 

Her  visits  were  undecided  and  uncer- 
tain, being,  as  they  were,  dependent  on  the 
presence  or  absence  of  John  Bellew  in  the  city. 
But  she  did,  once  in  a  while,  manage  to  steal 
uptown  for  an  afternoon  even  when  he  was  not 
away.  As  time  went  on  without  any  apparent 
danger  of  discovery,  even  Irene  ceased  to  be 
perturbed  about  the  possibiHty  of  Clare's  hus- 
band's stumbling  on  her  racial  identity. 

The  daughter,  Margery,  had  been  left 
in  Switzerland  in  school,  for  Clare  and  Bellew 
would  be  going  back  in  the  early  spring.  In 
March,  Clare  thought.  "And  how  I  do  hate  to 
think  of  it!"  she  would  say,  always  with  a  sug- 
gestion of  leashed  rebellion;  *'but  I  can't  see 
how  I'm  going  to  get  out  of  it.  Jack  won't 
hear  of  my  staying  behind.  If  I  could  have  just 
a  couple  of  months  more  in  New  York,  alone  I 
mean,  I'd  be  the  happiest  thing  in  the  world." 



"I  Imagine  you'll  be  happy  enough,  once 
you  get  away,"  Irene  told  her  one  day  when 
she  was  bewailing  her  approaching  departure. 
"Remember,  there's  Margery.  Think  how 
glad  you'll  be  to  see  her  after  all  this  time." 

"Children  aren't  everything,"  was  Clare 
Kendry's  answer  to  that.  "There  are  other 
things  in  the  world,  though  I  admit  some  peo- 
ple don't  seem  to  suspect  It."  And  she  laughed, 
more.  It  seemed,  at  some  secret  joke  of  her  own 
than  at  her  words. 

Irene  replied:  "You  know  you  don't 
mean  that,  Clare.  You're  only  trying  to  tease 
me.  I  know  very  well  that  I  take  being  a  mother 
rather  seriously,  I  am  wrapped  up  in  my  boys 
and  the  running  of  my  house.  I  can't  help  It. 
And,  really,  I  don't  think  it's  anything  to  laugh 
at."  And  though  she  was  aware  of  the  slight 
primness  in  her  words  and  attitude,  she  had 
neither  power  nor  wish  to  efface  it. 

Clare,  suddenly  very  sober  and  sweet, 
said:  "You're  right.  It's  no  laughing  matter. 
It's  shameful  of  me  to  tease  you,  'Rene.  You  are 
so  good."  And  she  reached  out  and  gave  Irene's 



hand  an  affectionate  little  squeeze.  ^'Don't 
think,"  she  added,  ^Vhatever  happens,  that 
I'll  ever  forget  how  good  you've  been  to  me." 


"Oh,  but  you  have,  you  have.  It's  just 
that  I  haven't  any  proper  morals  or  sense  of 
duty,  as  you  have,  that  makes  me  act  as  I  do." 

"Now  you  are  talking  nonsense." 

"But  it's  true,  'Rene.  Can't  you  realize 
that  I'm  not  like  you  a  bit?  Why,  to  get  the 
things  I  want  badly  enough,  I'd  do  anything, 
hurt  anybody,  throw  anything  away.  Really, 
'Rene,  I'm  not  safe."  Her  voice  as  well  as  the 
look  on  her  face  had  a  beseeching  earnestness 
that  made  Irene  vaguely  uncomfortable. 

She  said:  "I  don't  believe  it.  In  the  first 
place  what  you're  saying  is  so  utterly,  so 
wickedly  wrong.  And  as  for  your  giving  up 
things — "  She  stopped,  at  a  loss  for  an  accept- 
able term  to  express  her  opinion  of  Clare's 
"having"  nature. 

But  Clare  Kendry  had  begun  to  cry, 
audibly,  with  no  effort  at  restraint,  and  for  no 
reason  that  Irene  could  discover. 





X  HE  YEAR  was  getting  on  towards  its  end. 
October,  November  had  gone.  December  had 
come  and  brought  with  it  a  httle  snow  and  then 
a  freeze  and  after  that  a  thaw  and  some  soft 
pleasant  days  that  had  in  them  a  feeling  of 

It  wasn't,  this  mild  weather,  a  bit 
Christmasy,  Irene  Redfield  was  thinking,  as 
she  turned  out  of  Seventh  Avenue  into  her  own 
street.  She  didn't  like  it  to  be  warm  and 
springy  when  it  should  have  been  cold  and 
crisp,  or  grey  and  cloudy  as  if  snow  was  about 
to  fall.  The  weather,  like  people,  ought  to  en- 
ter into  the  spirit  of  the  season.  Here  the  holi- 
days were  almost  upon  them,  and  the  streets 
through  which  she  had  come  were  streaked 
with  rills  of  muddy  water  and  the  sun  shone  so 
warmly  that  children  had  taken  off  their  hats 
and  scarfs.  It  was  all  as  soft,  as  like  April,  as 
possible.  The  kind  of  weather  for  Easter.  Cer- 
tainly not  for  Christmas. 



Though,  she  admitted,  reluctantly,  she 
herself  didn't  feel  the  proper  Christmas  spirit 
this  year,  either.  But  that  couldn't  be  helped,  it 
seemed,  any  more  than  the  weather.  She  was 
weary  and  depressed.  And  for  all  her  trying, 
she  couldn't  be  free  of  that  dull,  indefinite 
misery  which  with  increasing  tenaciousness  had 
laid  hold  of  her.  The  morning's  aimless  wan- 
dering through  the  teeming  Harlem  streets, 
long  after  she  had  ordered  the  flowers  which 
had  been  her  excuse  for  setting  out,  was  but 
another  effort  to  tear  herself  loose  from  it. 

She  went  up  the  cream  stone  steps,  into 
the  house,  and  down  to  the  kitchen.  There  were 
to  be  people  in  to  tea.  But  that,  she  found,  after 
a  few  words  with  Sadie  and  Zulena,  need  give 
her  no  concern.  She  was  thankful.  She  didn't 
want  to  be  bothered.  She  went  upstairs  and 
took  off  her  things  and  got  into  bed. 

She  thought:  "Bother  those  people 
coming  to  tea !" 

She  thought:  "If  I  could  only  be  sure 
that  at  bottom  it's  just  Brazil." 



She  thought :  "Whatever  It  is,  if  I  only 
knew  what  it  was,  I  could  manage  it." 

Brian  again.  Unhappy,  restless,  with- 
drawn. And  she,  who  had  prided  herself  on 
knowing  his  moods,  their  causes  and  their  rem- 
edies, had  found  it  first  unthinkable,  and  then 
intolerable,  that  this,  so  like  and  yet  so  unlike 
those  other  spasmodic  restlessnesses  of  his, 
should  be  to  her  incomprehensible  and  elusive. 

He  was  restless  and  he  was  not  restless. 
He  was  discontented,  yet  there  were  times 
when  she  felt  he  was  possessed  of  some  intense 
secret  satisfaction,  like  a  cat  who  had  stolen  the 
cream.  He  was  irritable  with  the  boys,  espe- 
cially Junior,  for  Ted,  who  seemed  to  have  an 
uncanny  knowledge  of  his  father's  periods  of 
off  moods,  kept  out  of  his  way  when  possible. 
They  got  on  his  nerves,  drove  him  to  violent 
outbursts  of  temper,  very  different  from  his 
usual  gently  sarcastic  remarks  that  constituted 
his  idea  of  discipline  for  them.  On  the  other 
hand,  with  her  he  was  more  than  customarily 
considerate  and  abstemious.  And  It  had  been 



weeks  since  she  had  felt  the  keen  edge  of  his 

He  was  Hke  a  man  marking  time,  wait- 
ing. But  what  was  he  waiting  for?  It  was  ex- 
traordinary that,  after  all  these  years  of  ac- 
curate perception,  she  now  lacked  the  talent  to 
discover  what  that  appearance  of  waiting 
meant.  It  was  the  knowledge  that,  for  all  her 
watching,  all  her  patient  study,  the  reason  for 
his  humour  still  eluded  her  which  filled  her 
with  foreboding  dread.  That  guarded  reserve 
of  his  seemed  to  her  unjust.  Inconsiderate,  and 
alarming.  It  was  as  If  he  had  stepped  out  be- 
yond her  reach  into  some  section,  strange  and 
walled,  where  she  could  not  get  at  him. 

She  closed  her  eyes,  thinking  what  a 
blessing  it  would  be  if  she  could  get  a  little 
sleep  before  the  boys  came  in  from  school.  She 
couldn't,  of  course,  though  she  was  so  tired, 
having  had,  of  late,  so  many  sleepless  nights. 
Nights  filled  with  questionings  and  premoni- 

But  she  did  sleep — several  hours. 

She  wakened  to  find  Brian  standing  at 



her  bedside  looking  down  at  her,  an  unfathom- 
able expression  in  his  eyes. 

She  said:  "I  must  have  dropped  off  to 
sleep,"  and  watched  a  slender  ghost  of  his  old 
amused  smile  pass  over  his  face. 

"It's  getting  on  to  four,"  he  told  her, 
meaning,  she  knew,  that  she  was  going  to  be 
late  again. 

She  fought  back  the  quick  answer  that 
rose  to  her  lips  and  said  instead:  "I'm  getting 
right  up.  It  was  good  of  you  to  think  to  call 
me."  She  sat  up. 

He  bowed.  "Always  the  attentive  hus- 
band, you  see." 

"Yes  indeed.  Thank  goodness,  every- 
thing's ready." 

"Except  you.   Oh,    and   Clare's   down- 


"Clare !  What  a  nuisance !  I  didn't  ask 
her.  Purposely." 

"I  see.  Might  a  mere  man  ask  why?  Or 
is  the  reason  so  subtly  feminine  that  it  wouldn't 
be  understood  by  him?" 

A  little  of  his  smile  had  come  back. 



Irene,  who  was  beginning  to  shake  off  some  of 
her  depression  under  his  famlHar  banter,  said, 
almost  gaily:  "Not  at  all.  It  just  happens  that 
this  party  happens  to  be  for  Hugh,  and  that 
Hugh  happens  not  to  care  a  great  deal  for 
Clare;  therefore  I,  who  happen  to  be  giving 
the  party,  didn't  happen  to  ask  her.  Nothing 
could  be  simpler.  Could  it?" 

"Nothing.  It's  so  simple  that  I  can 
easily  see  beyond  your  simple  explanation  and 
surmise  that  Clare,  probably,  just  never  hap- 
pened to  pay  Hugh  the  admiring  attention  that 
he  happens  to  consider  no  more  than  his  just 
due.  Simplest  thing  in  the  world." 

Irene  exclaimed  in  amazement:  "Why, 
I  thought  you  liked  Hugh !  You  don't,  you 
can't,  believe  anything  so  idiotic!" 

"Well,  Hugh  does  think  he's  God,  you 

"That,"  Irene  declared,  getting  out  of 
bed,  "is  absolutely  not  true.  He  thinks  ever  so 
much  better  of  himself  than  that,  as  you,  who 
know  and  have  read  him,  ought  to  be  able  to 
guess.  If  you  remember  what  a  low  opinion  he 



has  of  God,  you  won't  make  such  a  silly  mis- 

She  went  into  the  closet  for  her  things 
and,  coming  back,  hung  her  frock  over  the  back 
of  a  chair  and  placed  her  shoes  on  the  floor 
beside  it.  Then  she  sat  down  before  her 

Brian  didn't  speak.  He  continued  to 
stand  beside  the  bed,  seeming  to  look  at  noth- 
ing in  particular.  Certainly  not  at  her.  True, 
his  gaze  was  on  her,  but  in  it  there  was  some 
quality  that  made  her  feel  that  at  that  moment 
she  was  no  more  to  him  than  a  pane  of  glass 
through  which  he  stared.  At  what?  She  didn't 
know,  couldn't  guess.  And  this  made  her  un- 
comfortable. Piqued  her. 

She  said:  "It  just  happens  that  Hugh 
prefers  intelligent  women." 

Plainly  he  was  startled.  "D'you  mean 
that  you  think  Clare  is  stupid?"  he  asked,  re- 
garding her  with  lifted  eyebrows,  which  em- 
phasized the  disbelief  of  his  voice. 

She  wiped  the  cold  cream  from  her  face, 
before  she  said:  "No,  I  don't.  She  isn't  stupid. 



She's  intelligent  enough  In  a  purely  feminine 
way.  Eighteenth-century  France  would  have 
been  a  marvellous  setting  for  her,  or  the  old 
South  if  she  hadn't  made  the  mistake  of  being 
born  a  Negro." 

"I  see.  Intelligent  enough  to  wear  a 
tight  bodice  and  keep  bowing  swains  whisper- 
ing compliments  and  retrieving  dropped  fans. 
Rather  a  pretty  picture.  I  take  it,  though,  as 
slightly  feline  in  Its  Implication." 

*'Well,  then,  all  I  can  say  is  that  you 
take  it  wrongly.  Nobody  admires  Clare  more 
than  I  do,  for  the  kind  of  Intelligence  she  has, 
as  well  as  for  her  decorative  qualities.  But 
she's  not —  She  isn't —  She  hasn't —  Oh,  I  can't 
explain  it.  Take  Bianca,  for  example,  or,  to 
keep  to  the  race,  Felise  Freeland.  Looks  and 
brains.  Real  brains  that  can  hold  their  own  with 
anybody.  Clare  has  got  brains  of  a  sort,  the 
kind  that  are  useful  too.  Acquisitive,  you  know. 
But  she'd  bore  a  man  like  Hugh  to  suicide.  Still, 
I  never  thought  that  even  Clare  would  come  to 
a  private  party  to  which  she  hadn't  been  asked. 
But,  it's  like  her." 

1 60 


For  a  minute  there  was  silence.  She 
completed  the  bright  red  arch  of  her  full  lips. 
Brian  moved  towards  the  door.  His  hand  was 
on  the  knob.  He  said:  "I'm  sorry,  Irene.  It's 
my  fault  entirely.  She  seemed  so  hurt  at  being 
left  out  that  I  told  her  I  was  sure  you'd  for- 
gotten and  to  just  come  along." 

Irene  cried  out:  "But,  Brian,  I — "  and 
stopped,  amazed  at  the  fierce  anger  that  had 
blazed  up  In  her. 

Brian's  head  came  round  with  a  jerk. 
His  brows  lifted  In  an  odd  surprise. 

Her  voice,  she  realized,  had  gone  queer. 
But  she  had  an  Instinctive  feeling  that  It  hadn't 
been  the  whole  cause  of  his  attitude.  And  that 
little  straightening  motion  of  the  shoulders. 
Hadn't  It  been  like  that  of  a  man  drawing  him- 
self up  to  receive  a  blow?  Her  fright  was  like 
a  scarlet  spear  of  terror  leaping  at  her  heart. 

Clare  Kendry!  So  that  was  It!  Impos- 
sible. It  couldn't  be. 

In  the  mirror  before  her  she  saw  that 
he  was  still  regarding  her  with  that  air  of  slight 
amazement.  She  dropped  her  eyes  to  the  jars 



and  bottles  on  the  table  and  began  to  fumble 
among  them  with  hands  whose  fingers  shook 

''Of  course,"  she  said  carefully,  'Tm 
glad  you  did.  And  in  spite  of  my  recent  re- 
marks, Clare  does  add  to  any  party.  She's  so 
easy  on  the  eyes." 

When  she  looked  again,  the  surprise 
had  gone  from  his  face  and  the  expectancy 
from,  his  bearing. 

"Yes,"  he  agreed.  "Well,  I  guess  Til  run 
along.  One  of  us  ought  to  be  down,  I  s'pose." 

"You're  right.  One  of  us  ought  to." 
She  was  surprised  that  it  was  in  her  normal 
tones  she  spoke,  caught  as  she  was  by  the  heart 
since  that  dull  indefinite  fear  had  grown  sud- 
denly into  sharp  panic.  "I'll  be  down  before 
you  know  it,"  she  promised. 

"All  right."  But  he  still  lingered. 
"You're  quite  certain.  You  don't  mind  my  ask- 
ing her?  Not  awfully,  I  mean?  I  see  now  that 
I  ought  to  have  spoken  to  you.  Trust  women  to 
have  their  reasons  for  everything." 

She  made  a  little  pretence  at  looking  at 


him,  managed  a  tiny  smile,  and  turned  away. 
Clare!  How  sickening! 

*'Yes,  don't  they?"  she  said,  striving  to 
keep  her  voice  casual.  Within  her  she  felt  a 
hardness  from  feeling,  not  absent,  but  re- 
pressed. And  that  hardness  was  rising,  swell- 
ing. Why  didn't  he  go?  Why  didn't  he? 

He  had  opened  the  door  at  last.  "You 
won't  be  long?"  he  asked,  admonished. 

She  shook  her  head,  unable  to  speak, 
for  there  was  a  choking  in  her  throat,  and  the 
confusion  in  her  mind  was  like  the  beating  of 
wings.  Behind  her  she  heard  the  gentle  Impact 
of  the  door  as  it  closed  behind  him,  and  knew 
that  he  had  gone.  Down  to  Clare. 

For  a  long  minute  she  sat  in  strained 
stiffness.  The  face  in  the  mirror  vanished  from 
her  sight,  blotted  out  by  this  thing  which  had 
so  suddenly  flashed  across  her  groping  mind. 
Impossible  for  her  to  put  it  immediately  into 
words  or  give  it  outline,  for,  prompted  by  some 
impulse  of  self-protection,  she  recoiled  from 
exact  expression. 

She  closed  her  unseeing  eyes  and 


clenched  her  fists.  She  tried  not  to  cry.  But  her 
Hps  tightened  and  no  effort  could  check  the  hot 
tears  of  rage  and  shame  that  sprang  into  her 
eyes  and  flowed  down  her  cheeks;  so  she  laid 
her  face  in  her  arms  and  wept  silently. 

When  she  was  sure  that  she  had  done 
crying,  she  wiped  away  the  warm  remaining 
tears  and  got  up.  After  bathing  her  swollen 
face  in  cold,  refreshing  water  and  carefully 
applying  a  stinging  splash  of  toilet  water,  she 
went  back  to  the  mirror  and  regarded  herself 
gravely.  Satisfied  that  there  lingered  no  be- 
traying evidence  of  weeping,  she  dusted  a  little 
powder  on  her  dark-white  face  and  again  ex- 
amined it  carefully,  and  with  a  kind  of  ridi- 
culing contempt. 

"I  do  think,"  she  confided  to  it,  "that 
youVe  been  something — oh,  very  much — of  a 
damned  fool." 

Downstairs  the  ritual  of  tea  gave  her 
some  busy  moments,  and  that,  she  decided,  was 
a  blessing.  She  wanted  no  empty  spaces  of  time 
in  which  her  mind  would  immediately  return  to 
that  horror  which  she  had  not  yet  gathered  suf- 



ficient  courage  to  face.  Pouring  tea  properly 
and  nicely  was  an  occupation  that  required  a 
kind  of  well-balanced  attention. 

In  the  room  beyond,  a  clock  chimed.  A 
single  sound.  Fifteen  minutes  past  five  o'clock. 
That  was  all !  And  yet  in  the  short  space  of 
half  an  hour  all  of  life  had  changed,  lost  its 
colour,  Its  vividness,  its  whole  meaning.  No, 
she  reflected,  it  wasn't  that  that  had  happened. 
Life  about  her,  apparently,  went  on  exactly  as 

"Oh,  Mrs.  Runyon.  ...  So  nice  to  see 
you.  .  .  .  Two?  .  .  .  Really?  .  .  .  How  ex- 
citing! .  .  .  Yes,  I  think  Tuesday's  all 
right.  .  .  ." 

Yes,  life  went  on  precisely  as  before. 
It  was  only  she  that  had  changed.  Knowing, 
stumbling  on  this  thing,  had  changed  her.  It 
was  as  If  In  a  house  long  dim,  a  match  had  been 
struck,  showing  ghastly  shapes  where  had  been 
only  blurred  shadows. 

Chatter,  chatter,  chatter.  Someone 
asked  her  a  question.  She  glanced  up  with  what 
she  felt  was  a  rigid  smile. 



*'Yes  .  .  .  Brian  picked  it  up  last  win- 
ter in  Haiti.  Terribly  weird,  isn't  it?  ...  It 
is  rather  marvellous  in  its  own  hideous  way. 
.  .  .  Practically  nothing,  I  believe.  A  few 
cents.  .  .  .'* 

Hideous.  A  great  weariness  came  over 
her.  Even  the  small  exertion  of  pouring  golden 
tea  into  thin  old  cups  seemed  almost  too  much 
for  her.  She  went  on  pouring.  Made  repetitions 
of  her  smile.  Answered  questions.  Manufac- 
tured conversation.  She  thought:  "I  feel  like 
the  oldest  person  in  the  world  with  the  longest 
stretch  of  life  before  me." 

"Josephine  Baker?  .  .  .  No.  I've  never 
seen  her.  .  .  .  Well,  she  might  have  been  in 
Shuffle  Along  when  I  saw  it,  but  if  she  was,  I 
don't  remember  her.  .  .  .  Oh,  but  you're 
wrong  I  ...  I  do  think  Ethel  Waters  is  aw- 
fully good.  ..." 

There  were  the  familiar  little  tinkling 
sounds  of  spoons  striking  against  frail  cups,  the 
soft  running  sounds  of  inconsequential  talk, 
punctuated  now  and  then  with  laughter.  In  ir- 
regular small  groups,   disintegrating,   coalesc- 



ing,  striking  just  the  right  note  of  disharmony, 
disorder  in  the  big  room,  which  Irene  had  fur- 
nished with  a  sparingness  that  was  almost 
chaste,  moved  the  guests  with  that  slight  fa- 
miliarity that  makes  a  party  a  success.  On  the 
floor  and  the  walls  the  sinking  sun  threw  long, 
fantastic  shadows. 

So  like  many  other  tea-parties  she  had 
had.  So  unlike  any  of  those  others.  But  she 
mustn't  think  yet.  Time  enough  for  that  after. 
All  the  time  in  the  world.  She  had  a  second's 
flashing  knowledge  of  what  those  words  might 
portend.  Time  with  Brian.  Time  without  him. 
It  was  gone,  leaving  in  its  place  an  almost  un- 
controllable impulse  to  laugh,  to  scream,  to  hurl 
things  about.  She  wanted,  suddenly,  to  shock 
people,  to  hurt  them,  to  make  them  notice  her, 
to  be  aware  of  her  suffering. 

''Hello,  Dave.  .  .  .  Felise.  .  .  .  Really 
your  clothes  are  the  despair  of  half  the  women 
in  Harlem.  .  .  .  How  do  you  do  it?  .  .  . 
Lovely,  is  it  Worth  or  Lanvin?  .  .  .  Oh,  a 
mere  Babani.  ..." 

"Merely  that,"  Felise  Freeland  ac- 


knowledged.  "Come  out  of  it,  Irene,  whatever 
it  is.  You  look  like  the  second  grave-digger/' 

"Thanks,  for  the  hint,  Felise.  I'm  not 
feeling  quite  up  to  par.  The  weather,  I  guess." 

"Buy  yourself  an  expensive  new  frock, 
child.  It  always  helps.  Any  time  this  child  gets 
the  blues,  it  means  money  out  of  Dave's  pocket. 
How're  those  boys  of  yours?" 

The  boys!  For  once  she'd  forgotten 

They  were,  she  told  Felise,  very  well. 
Felise  mumbled  something  about  that  being 
awfully  nice,  and  said  she'd  have  to  fly,  because 
for  a  wonder  she  saw  Mrs.  Bellew  sitting  by 
herself,  "and  I've  been  trying  to  get  her  alone 
all  afternoon.  I  want  her  for  a  party.  Isn't  she 
stunning  today?" 

Clare  was.  Irene  couldn't  remember 
ever  having  seen  her  look  better.  She  was  wear- 
ing a  superlatively  simple  cinnamon-brown 
frock  which  brought  out  all  her  vivid  beauty, 
and  a  little  golden  bowl  of  a  hat.  Around 
her  neck  hung  a  string  of  amber  beads  that 
would    easily    have    made    six    or    eight    like 



one    Irene    owned.    Yes,    she    was    stunning. 

The  ripple  of  talk  flowed  on.  The  fire 
roared.  The  shadows  stretched  longer. 

Across  the  room  was  Hugh.  He  wasn't, 
Irene  hoped,  being  too  bored.  He  seemed  as  he 
always  did,  a  bit  aloof,  a  little  amused,  and 
somewhat  weary.  And  as  usual  he  was  hover- 
ing before  the  book-shelves.  But  he  was  not, 
she  noticed,  looking  at  the  book  he  had  taken 
down.  Instead,  his  dull  amber  eyes  were  held 
by  something  across  the  room.  They  were  a 
little  scornful.  Well,  Hugh  had  never  cared  for 
Clare  Kendry.  For  a  minute  Irene  hesitated, 
then  turned  her  head,  though  she  knew  what  it 
was  that  held  Hugh's  gaze.  Clare,  who  had 
suddenly  clouded  all  her  days.  Brian,  the 
father  of  Ted  and  Junior. 

Clare's  ivory  face  was  what  It  always 
was,  beautiful  and  caressing.  Or  maybe  today  a 
little  masked.  Unrevealing.  Unaltered  and  un- 
disturbed by  any  emotion  within  or  without. 
Brian's  seemed  to  Irene  to  be  pitiably  bare.  Or 
was  it  too  as  it  always  was?  That  half-effaced 
seeking  look,  did  he  always  have  that?  Queer, 



that  now  she  didn't  know,  couldn't  recall.  Then 
she  saw  him  smile,  and  the  smile  made  his  face 
all  eager  and  shining.  Impelled  by  some  inner 
urge  of  loyalty  to  herself,  she  glanced  away. 
But  only  for  a  moment.  And  when  she  turned 
towards  them  again,  she  thought  that  the  look 
on  his  face  was  the  most  melancholy  and  yet 
the  most  scoffing  that  she  had  ever  seen  upon  it. 

In  the  next  quarter  of  an  hour  she  prom- 
ised herself  to  Bianca  Wentworth  in  Sixty- 
second  Street,  Jane  Tenant  at  Seventh  Avenue 
and  a  Hundred  and  Fiftieth  Street,  and  the 
Dashields  in  Brooklyn  for  dinner  all  on  the 
same  evening  and  at  almost  the  same  hour. 

Oh  well,  what  did  it  matter?  She  had 
no  thoughts  at  all  now,  and  all  she  felt  was  a 
great  fatigue.  Before  her  tired  eyes  Clare 
Kendry  was  talking  to  Dave  Freeland.  Scraps 
of  their  conversation,  in  Clare's  husky  voice, 
floated  over  to  her:  ".  .  .  always  admired  you 
...  so  much  about  you  long  ago  .  .  .  every- 
body says  so  ...  no  one  but  you.  .  .  ."  And 
more  of  the  same.  The  man  hung  rapt  on  her 
words,  though  he  was  the  husband  of  Felise 



Freeland,  and  the  author  of  novels  that  re- 
vealed a  man  of  perception  and  a  devastating 
irony.  And  he  fell  for  such  pish-posh !  And  all 
because  Clare  had  a  trick  of  sliding  down  ivory 
lids  over  astonishing  black  eyes  and  then  lift- 
ing them  suddenly  and  turning  on  a  caressing 
smile.  Men  like  Dave  Freeland  fell  for  it.  And 

Her  mental  and  physical  languor  re- 
ceded. Brian.  What  did  it  mean?  How  would  it 
affect  her  and  the  boys?  The  boys!  She  had  a 
surge  of  relief.  It  ebbed,  vanished.  A  feeling  of 
absolute  unimportance  followed.  Actually,  she 
didn't  count.  She  was,  to  him,  only  the  mother 
of  his  sons.  That  was  all.  Alone  she  was  noth- 
ing. Worse.  An  obstacle. 

Rage  boiled  up  in  her. 

There  was  a  slight  crash.  On  the  floor 
at  her  feet  lay  the  shattered  cup.  Dark  stains 
dotted  the  bright  rug.  Spread.  The  chatter 
stopped.  Went  on.  Before  her,  Zulena  gathered 
up  the  white  fragments. 

As  from  a  distance  Hugh  Wentworth's 
dipt  voice  came  to  her,   though  he  was,  she 



w^s  aware,  somehow  miraculously  at  her  side. 
"Sorry,"  he  apologized.  "Must  have  pushed 
you.  Clumsy  of  me.  Don't  tell  me  it's  priceless 
and  irreplaceable." 

It  hurt.  Dear  God!  How  the  thing 
hurt!  But  she  couldn't  think  of  that  now.  Not 
with  Hugh  sitting  there  mumbling  apologies 
and  lies.  The  significance  of  his  words,  the 
power  of  his  discernment,  stirred  in  her  a  sense 
of  caution.  Her  pride  revolted.  Damn  Hugh! 
Something  would  have  to  be  done  about  him. 
Now.  She  couldn't,  it  seemed,  help  his  know- 
ing. It  was  too  late  for  that.  But  she  could  and 
would  keep  him  from  knowing  that  she  knew. 
She  could,  she  would  bear  it.  She'd  have  to. 
There  were  the  boys.  Her  whole  body  went 
taut.  In  that  second  she  saw  that  she  could  bear 
anything,  but  only  if  no  one  knew  that  she  had 
anything  to  bear.  It  hurt.  It  frightened  her,  but 
she  could  bear  it. 

She  turned  to  Hugh.  Shook  her  head. 
Raised  innocent  dark  eyes  to  his  concerned  pale 
ones.  "Oh,  no,"  she  protested,  "you  didn't  push 



me.  Cross  your  heart,  hope  to  die,  and  I'll  tell 
you  how  it  happened." 


*'Did  you  notice  that  cup?  Well,  you're 
lucky.  It  was  the  ugliest  thing  that  your  an- 
cestors, the  charming  Confederates  ever  owned. 
I've  forgotten  how  many  thousands  of  years 
ago  It  was  that  Brian's  great-great-grand-uncle 
owned  it.  But  It  has,  or  had,  a  good  old  hoary 
history.  It  was  brought  North  by  way  of  the 
subway.  Oh,  all  right !  Be  English  if  you  want 
to  and  call  It  the  underground.  What  I'm  com- 
ing to  is  the  fact  that  I've  never  figured  out  a 
way  of  getting  rid  of  It  until  about  five  minutes 
ago.  I  had  an  inspiration.  I  had  only  to  break 
it,  and  I  was  rid  of  it  for  ever.  So  simple !  And 
I'd  never  thought  of  it  before." 

Hugh  nodded  and  his  frosty  smile 
spread  over  his  features.  Had  she  convinced 

"Still,"  she  went  on  with  a  little  laugh 
that  didn't,  she  was  sure,  sound  the  least  bit 
forced,  ''I'm  perfectly  willing  for  you  to  take 



the  blame  and  admit  that  you  pushed  me  at  the 
wrong  moment.  What  are  friends  for,  if  not  to 
help  bear  our  sins?  Brian  will  certainly  be  told 
that  it  was  your  fault. 

^'More  tea,  Clare?  ...  I  haven't  had 
a  minute  with  you.  .  .  .  Yes,  it  is  a  nice  party. 
.  .  .  You'll  stay  to  dinner,  I  hope.  .  .  .  Oh, 
too  bad!  .  .  .  I'll  be  alone  with  the  boys.  .  .  . 
They'll  be  sorry.  Brian's  got  a  medical  meeting, 
or  something.  .  .  .  Nice  frock  you're  wearing. 
.  .  .  Thanks.  .  .  .  Well,  good-bye;  see  you 
soon,  I  hope." 

The  clock  chimed.  One.  Two,  Three. 
Four.  Five.  Six.  Was  It,  could  it  be,  only  a  little 
over  an  hour  since  she  had  come  down  to  tea? 
One  little  hour. 

*'Must  you  go?  .  .  .  Good-bye.  .  .  . 
Thank  you  so  much.  ...  So  nice  to  see 
you.  .  .  .  Yes,  Wednesday.  .  .  .  My  love  to 
Madge.  .  .  .  Sorry,  but  Fm  filled  up  for 
Tuesday.  .  .  .  Oh,  really?  .  .  .  Yes.  .  .  . 
Good-bye.   .  .  .  Good-bye.  .  .  ." 

It  hurt.  It  hurt  like  hell.  But  It  didn't 



matter,  If  no  one  knew.  If  everything  could  go 
on  as  before.  If  the  boys  were  safe. 

It  did  hurt. 

But  it  didn't  matter. 


But  it  did  matter.  It  mattered  more  than 
anything  had  ever  mattered  before. 

What  bitterness  !  That  the  one  fear,  the 
one  uncertainty,  that  she  had  felt,  Brian's  ache 
to  go  somewhere  else,  should  have  dwindled  to 
a  childish  triviality !  And  with  It  the  quality  of 
the  courage  and  resolution  with  which  she  had 
met  It.  From  the  visions  and  dangers  which  she 
now  perceived  she  shrank  away.  For  them  she 
had  no  remedy  or  courage.  Desperately  she 
tried  to  shut  out  the  knowledge  from  which 
had  risen  this  turmoil,  which  she  had  no  power 
to  moderate  or  still,  within  her.  And  half  suc- 

For,  she  reasoned,  what  was  there, 
what  had  there  been,  to  show  that  she  was  even 
half  correct  In  her  tormenting  notion?  Nothing. 
She  had  seen  nothing,  heard  nothing.  She  had 
no  facts  or  proofs.  She  was  only  making  herself 
unutterably  wretched  by  an  unfounded  suspl- 



cion.  It  had  been  a  case  of  looking  for  trouble 
and  finding  it  in  good  measure.  Merely  that. 

With  this  self-assurance  that  she  had  no 
real  knowledge,  she  redoubled  her  efforts  to 
drive  out  of  her  mind  the  distressing  thought  of 
faiths  broken  and  trusts  betrayed  which  every 
mental  vision  of  Clare,  of  Brian,  brought  with 
them.  She  could  not,  she  would  not,  go  again 
through  the  tearing  agony  that  lay  just  behind 

She  must,  she  told  herself,  be  fair.  In 
all  their  married  life  she  had  had  no  slightest 
cause  to  suspect  her  husband  of  any  Infidelity, 
of  any  serious  flirtation  even.  If — and  she 
doubted  it — he  had  had  his  hours  of  outside 
erratic  conduct,  they  were  unknown  to  her. 
Why  begin  now  to  assume  them?  And  on  noth- 
ing more  concrete  than  an  idea  that  had  leapt 
into  her  mind  because  he  had  told  her  that  he 
had  invited  a  friend,  a  friend  of  hers,  to  a  party 
in  his  own  house.  And  at  a  time  when  she  had 
been,  it  was  likely,  more  asleep  than  awake. 
How  could  she  without  anything  done  or  said, 
or  left  undone  or  unsaid,  so  easily  believe  him 



guilty?  How  be  so  ready  to  renounce  all  con- 
fidence in  the  worth  of  their  life  together? 

And  if,  perchance,  there  were  some 
small  something — well,  what  could  it  mean? 
Nothing.  There  were  the  boys.  There  was  John 
Bellew.  The  thought  of  these  three  gave  her 
some  slight  relief.  But  she  did  not  look  the  fu- 
ture in  the  face.  She  wanted  to  feel  nothing,  to 
think  nothing;  simply  to  believe  that  it  was  all 
silly  invention  on  her  part.  Yet  she  could  not. 
Not  quite. 

Christmas,  with  its  unreality,  Its  hectic 
rush.  Its  false  gaiety,  came  and  went.  Irene  was 
thankful  for  the  confused  unrest  of  the  season. 
Its  Irksomeness,  Its  crowds,  Its  Inane  and  Insin- 
cere repetitions  of  genialities,  pushed  between 
her  and  the  contemplation  of  her  growing  un- 

She  was  thankful,  too,  for  the  continued 
absence  of  Clare,  who,  John  Bellew  having  re- 
turned from  a  long  stay  in  Canada,  had  with- 
drawn to  that  other  life  of  hers,  remote  and  In- 
accessible.   But    beating    against    the    walled 



prison  of  Irene's  thoughts  was  the  shunned 
fancy  that,  though  absent,  Clare  Kendry  was 
still  present,  that  she  was  close. 

Brian,  too,  had  withdrawn.  The  house 
contained  his  outward  self  and  his  belongings. 
He  came  and  went  with  his  usual  noiseless  ir- 
regularity. He  sat  across  from  her  at  table. 
He  slept  in  his  room  next  to  hers  at  night.  But 
he  was  remote  and  inaccessible.  No  use  pre- 
tending that  he  was  happy,  that  things  were 
the  same  as  they  had  always  been.  He  wasn't 
and  they  weren't.  However,  she  assured  her- 
self, it  needn't  necessarily  be  because  of  any- 
thing that  involved  Clare.  It  was,  it  must  be, 
another  manifestation  of  the  old  longing. 

But  she  did  wish  it  were  spring,  March, 
so  that  Clare  would  be  sailing,  out  of  her  life 
and  Brian's.  Though  she  had  come  almost  to 
believe  that  there  was  nothing  but  generous 
friendship  between  those  two,  she  was  very 
tired  of  Clare  Kendry.  She  wanted  to  be  free 
of  her,  and  of  her  furtive  comings  and  goings. 
If  something  would  only  happen,  something 
that  would  make  John   Bellew  decide  on  an 



earlier  departure,  or  that  would  remove  Clare. 
Anything.  She  didn't  care  what.  Not  even  if  it 
were  that  Clare's  Margery  were  ill,  or  dying. 
Not  even  if  Bellew  should  discover— 

She  drew  a  quick,  sharp  breath.  And  for 
a  long  time  sat  staring  down  at  the  hands  in 
her  lap.  Strange,  she  had  not  before  realized 
how  easily  she  could  put  Clare  out  of  her  life ! 
She  had  only  to  tell  John  Bellew  that  his  wife 
— No.  Not  that!  But  if  he  should  somehow 
learn  of  these  Harlem  visits —  Why  should  she 
hesitate?  Why  spare  Clare? 

But  she  shrank  away  from  the  idea  of 
telling  that  man,  Clare  Kendry's  white  husband, 
anything  that  would  lead  him  to  suspect  that 
his  wife  was  a  Negro.  Nor  could  she  write  it, 
or  telephone  it,  or  tell  it  to  someone  else  who 
would  tell  him. 

She  was  caught  between  two  allegiances, 
different,  yet  the  same.  Herself.  Her  race. 
Race !  The  thing  that  bound  and  suffocated  her. 
Whatever  steps  she  took,  or  if  she  took  none 
at  all,  something  would  be  crushed.  A  person 
or  the  race.  Clare,  herself,  or  the  race.  Or,  it 



might  be,  all  three.  Nothing,  she  Imagined,  was 
ever  more  completely  sardonic. 

Sitting  alone  In  the  quiet  living-room  In 
the  pleasant  fire-light,  Irene  Redfield  wished, 
for  the  first  time  In  her  life,  that  she  had  not 
been  born  a  Negro.  For  the  first  time  she  suf- 
fered and  rebelled  because  she  was  unable  to 
disregard  the  burden  of  race.  It  was,  she  cried 
silently,  enough  to  suffer  as  a  woman,  an  indi- 
vidual, on  one's  own  account,  without  having 
to  suffer  for  the  race  as  well.  It  was  a  brutality, 
and  undeserved.  Surely,  no  other  people  so 
cursed  as  Ham's  dark  children. 

Nevertheless,  her  weakness,  her  shrink- 
ing, her  own  inability  to  compass  the  thing,  did 
not  prevent  her  from  wishing  fervently  that.  In 
some  way  with  which  she  had  no  concern,  John 
Bellew  would  discover,  not  that  his  wife  had  a 
touch  of  the  tar-brush — Irene  didn't  want  that 
— ^but  that  she  was  spending  all  the  time  that 
he  was  out  of  the  city  In  black  Harlem.  Only 
that.  It  would  be  enough  to  rid  her  forever  of 
Clare  Kendry. 



As  IF  In  answer  to  her  wish,  the  very  next  day 
Irene  came  face  to  face  with  Bellew. 

She  had  gone  downtown  with  Fellse 
Freeland  to  shop.  The  day  was  an  exceptionally 
cold  one,  with  a  strong  wind  that  had  whipped 
a  dusky  red  into  Felise's  smooth  golden  cheeks 
and  driven  moisture  Into  Irene's  soft  brown 

Clinging  to  each  other,  with  heads  bent 
against  the  wind,  they  turned  out  of  the  Ave- 
nue into  Fifty-seventh  Street.  A  sudden  bluster 
flung  them  around  the  corner  with  unexpected 
quickness  and  they  collided  with  a  man. 

"Pardon,"  Irene  begged  laughingly, 
and  looked  up  Into  the  face  of  Clare  Kendry's 

"Mrs.  Redfield!" 

His  hat  came  off.  He  held  out  his 
hand,  smiling  genially. 

But  the  smile  faded  at  once.  Surprise, 


incredulity,  and — was  it  understanding? — 
passed  over  his  features. 

He  had,  Irene  knew,  become  conscious 
of  Felise,  golden,  with  curly  black  Negro  hair, 
whose  arm  was  still  linked  in  her  own.  She 
was  sure,  now,  of  the  understanding  in  his 
face,  as  he  looked  at  her  again  and  then  back  at 
Felise.  And  displeasure. 

He  didn't,  however,  withdraw  his  out- 
stretched hand.  Not  at  once. 

But  Irene  didn't  take  it.  Instinctively, 
in  the  first  glance  of  recognition,  her  face  had 
become  a  mask.  Now  she  turned  on  him  a 
totally  uncomprehending  look,  a  bit  question- 
ing. Seeing  that  he  still  stood  with  hand  out- 
stretched, she  gave  him  the  cool  appraising 
stare  which  she  reserved  for  mashers,  and 
drew  Felise  on. 

Felise  drawled:  "Aha!  Been  ^passing,' 
have  you?  Well,  I've  queered  that." 

"Yes,  I'm  afraid  you  have." 

"Why,  Irene  Redfield!  You  sound  as  if 
you  cared  terribly.  I'm  sorry." 

"I  do,  but  not  for  the  reason  you  think. 



I  don't  believe  I've  ever  gone  native  in  my  life 
except  for  the  sake  of  convenience,  restaurants, 
theatre  tickets,  and  things  like  that.  Never  so- 
cially I  mean,  except  once.  You've  just  passed 
the  only  person  that  I've  ever  met  disguised  as 
a  white  woman." 

"Awfully  sorry.  Be  sure  your  sin  will 
find  you  out  and  all  that.  Tell  me  about  it." 

'Td  like  to.  It  would  amuse  you.  But  I 

Felise's  laughter  was  as  languidly  non- 
chalant as  her  cool  voice.  "Can  it  possible  that 
the  honest  Irene  has —  Oh,  do  look  at  that 
coat!  There.  The  red  one.  Isn't  it  a  dream?" 

Irene  was  thinking:  "I  had  my  chance 
and  didn't  take  It.  I  had  only  to  speak  and  to 
Introduce  him  to  Felise  with  the  casual  remark 
that  he  was  Clare's  husband.  Only  that.  Fool. 
Fool."  That  Instinctive  loyalty  to  a  race.  Why 
couldn't  she  get  free  of  It?  Why  should  It  In- 
clude Clare?  Clare,  who'd  shown  little  enough 
consideration  for  her,  and  hers.  What  she  felt 
was  not  so  much  resentment  as  a  dull  despair 
because  she  could  not  change  herself  In  this  re- 



spect,  could  not  separate  individuals  from  the 
race,  herself  from  Clare  Kendry. 

"Let's  go  home,  Felise.  I'm  so  tired  I 
could  drop." 

"Why,  we  haven't  done  half  the  things 
we  planned." 

"I  know,  but  it's  too  cold  to  be  running 
all  over  town.  But  you  stay  down  if  you  want 


"I  think  I'll  do  that,  if  you  don't  mind." 

And  now  another  problem  confronted 
Irene.  She  must  tell  Clare  of  this  meeting. 
Warn  her.  But  how?  She  hadn't  seen  her  for 
days.  Writing  and  telephoning  were  equally 
unsafe.  And  even  if  it  was  possible  to  get  in 
touch  with  her,  what  good  would  it  do?  If  Bel- 
lew  hadn't  concluded  that  he'd  made  a  mistake, 
if  he  was  certain  of  her  Identity — and  he  was 
nobody's  fool — telling  Clare  wouldn't  avert  the 
results  of  the  encounter.  Besides,  it  was  too 
late.  Whatever  was  in  store  for  Clare  Kendry 
had  already  overtaken  her. 

Irene  was  conscious  of  a  feeling  of  re- 


lleved  thankfulness  at  the  thought  that  she 
was  probably  rid  of  Clare,  and  without  having 
lifted  a  finger  or  uttered  one  word. 

But  she  did  mean  to  tell  Brian  about 
meeting  John  Bellew. 

But  that,  it  seemed,  was  impossible. 
Strange.  Something  held  her  back.  Each  time 
she  was  on  the  verge  of  saying:  "I  ran  into 
Clare's  husband  on  the  street  downtown  to- 
day. I'm  sure  he  recognized  me,  and  Felise  was 
with  me,"  she  failed  to  speak.  It  sounded  too 
much  like  the  warning  she  wanted  it  to  be.  Not 
even  in  the  presence  of  the  boys  at  dinner  could 
she  make  the  bare  statement. 

The  evening  dragged.  At  last  she  said 
good-night  and  went  upstairs,  the  words  un- 

She  thought:  *'Why  didn't  I  tell  him? 
Why  didn't  I?  If  trouble  comes  from  this,  I'll 
never  forgive  myself.  I'll  tell  him  when  he 
comes  up." 

She  took  up  a  book,  but  she  could  not 
read,  so  oppressed  was  she  by  a  nameless  fore- 



What  if  Bellew  should  divorce  Clare? 
Could  he?  There  was  the  Rhinelander  case. 
But  in  France,  in  Paris,  such  things  were  very 
easy.  If  he  divorced  her —  If  Clare  were  free — 
But  of  all  the  things  that  could  happen,  that 
was  the  one  she  did  not  want.  She  must  get  her 
mind  away  from  that  possibility.  She  must. 

Then  came  a  thought  which  she  tried  to 

drive  away.  If  Clare  should  die !  Then —  Oh, 

it  was  vile!  To  think,  yes,  to  wish  that!  She 

"    felt  faint  and  sick.  But  the  thought  stayed  with 

her.  She  could  not  get  rid  of  it. 

She  heard  the  outer  door  open.  Close. 
Brian  had  gone  out.  She  turned  her  face  into 
her  pillow  to  cry.  But  no  tears  came. 

She  lay  there  awake,  thinking  of  things 
past.  Of  her  courtship  and  marriage  and  Jun- 
ior's birth.  Of  the  time  they  had  bought  the  ^ 
house  in  which  they  had  lived  so  long  and  so 
happily.  Of  the  time  Ted  had  passed  his  pneu- 
monia crisis  and  they  knew  he  would  live.  And 
of  other  sweet  painful  memories  that  would 
never  come  again. 

Above  everything  else  she  had  wanted, 



had  striven,  to  keep  undisturbed  the  pleasant 
routine  of  her  life.  And  now  Clare  Kendry  had 
come  into  It,  and  with  her  the  menace  of  Im- 

''Dear  God,"  she  prayed,  "make  March 
come  quickly." 

By  and  by  she  slept. 


X  HE  NEXT  MORNING  brought  With  it  a  snow- 
storm that  lasted  throughout  the  day. 

After  a  breakfast,  which  had  been  eaten 
almost  in  silence  and  which  she  was  relieved  to 
have  done  with,  Irene  Redfield  lingered  for  a 
little  while  in  the  downstairs  hall,  looking  out 
at   the   soft   flakes   fluttering   down.    She   was 
watching  them  immediately  fill  some  ugly  ir- 
regular gaps  left  by  the  feet  of  hurrying  pedes- 
trians when  Zulena  came  to  her,  saying:  "The 
telephone,  Mrs.  Redfield.  It's  Mrs.  Bellew." 
"Take  the  message,  Zulena,  please." 
Though  she  continued  to  stare  out  of 
the  window,  Irene  saw  nothing  now,  stabbed  as 
she    was   by    fear — and   hope.    Had    anything 
happened  between  Clare  and  Bellew?  And  if 
so,  what?  And  was  she  to  be  freed  at  last  from 
the  aching  anxiety  of  the  past  weeks?  Or  was 
there  to  be  more,  and  worse?  She  had  a  wrest- 
ling moment,  in  which  it  seemed  that  she  must 



rush  after  Zulena  and  hear  for  herself  what  it 
was  that  Clare  had  to  say.  But  she  waited. 

Zulena,  when  she  came  back,  said:  "She 
says,  ma'am,  that  she'll  be  able  to  go  to  Mrs. 
Freeland's  tonight.  She'll  be  here  some  time  be- 
tween eight  and  nine." 

"Thank  you,  Zulena." 

The  day  dragged  on  to  its  end. 

At  dinner  Brian  spoke  bitterly  of  a 
lynching  that  he  had  been  reading  about  in  the 
evening  paper. 

"Dad,  why  is  it  that  they  only  lynch 
coloured  people?"  Ted  asked. 

"Because  they  hate  'em,  son." 

"Brian !"  Irene's  voice  was  a  plea  and  a 

Ted  said:  "Oh!  And  why  do  they  hate 


"Because  they  are  afraid  of  them." 
"But  what  makes  them  afraid  of  'em?" 
"Because — " 

"It  seems,  son,  that  is  a  subject  we  can't 


go  into  at  the  moment  without  distressing  the 
ladies  of  our  family,"  he  told  the  boy  with  mock 
seriousness,  "but  we'll  take  it  up  some  time 
when  we're  alone  together." 

Ted  nodded  in  his  engaging  grave  way.  "I 
see.  Maybe  we  can  talk  about  it  tomorrow  on 
the  way  to  school." 

'That'll  be  line." 


"Mother,"  Junior  remarked,  "that's 
the  third  time  you've  said  'Brian'  like  that." 

"But  not  the  last.  Junior,  never  you 
fear,"  his  father  told  him. 

After  the  boys  had  gone  up  to  their  own 
floor,  Irene  said  suavely:  "I  do  wish,  Brian, 
that  you  wouldn't  talk  about  lynching  before 
Ted  and  Junior.  It  was  really  inexcusable  for 
you  to  bring  up  a  thing  like  that  at  dinner. 
There'll  be  time  enough  for  them  to  learn 
about  such  horrible  things  when  they're  older." 

"You're  absolutely  wrong!  If,  as  you're 
so  determined,  they've  got  to  live  in  this 
damned  country,  they'd  better  find  out  what 



sort  of  thing  they're  up  against  as  soon  as  pos- 
sible. The  earlier  they  learn  it,  the  better  pre- 
pared they'll  be." 

"I  don't  agree.  I  want  their  childhood 
to  be  happy  and  as  free  from  the  knowledge  of 
such  things  as  It  possibly  can  be." 

"Very  laudable,"  was  Brian's  sarcastic 
answer.  "Very  laudable  indeed,  all  things  con- 
sidered. But  can  it?" 

"Certainly  It  can.  If  you'll  only  do  your 

"Stuff !  You  know  as  well  as  I  do,  Irene, 
that  It  can't.  What  was  the  use  of  our  trying 
to  keep  them  from  learning  the  word  'nigger' 
and  its  connotation?  They  found  out,  didn't 
they?  And  how?  Because  somebody  called  Jun- 
ior a  dirty  nigger." 

"Just  the  same  you're  not  to  talk  to 
them  about  the  race  problem.  I  won't  have  It." 

They  glared  at  each  other. 

"I  tell  you,  Irene,  they've  got  to  know 
these  things,  and  it  might  as  well  be  now  as 

"They  do  not!"  she  insisted,  forcing 


back  the  tears  of  anger  that  were  threatening 
to  fall. 

Brian  growled :  "I  can't  understand  how 
anybody  as  intelligent  as  you  like  to  think  you 
are  can  show  evidences  of  such  stupidity."  He 
looked  at  her  in  a  puzzled  harassed  way. 

"Stupid!"  she  cried.  "Is  it  stupid  to 
want  my  children  to  be  happy?"  Her  lips  were 

"At  the  expense  of  proper  preparation 
for  life  and  their  future  happiness,  yes.  And  Td 
feel  I  hadn't  done  my  duty  by  them  if  I  didn't 
give  them  some  inkling  of  what's  before  them. 
It's  the  least  I  can  do.  I  wanted  to  get  them 
out  of  this  hellish  place  years  ago.  You 
wouldn't  let  me.  I  gave  up  the  idea,  because  you 
objected.  Don't  expect  me  to  give  up  every- 

Under  the  lash  of  his  words  she  was 
silent.  Before  any  answer  came  to  her,  he  had 
turned  and  gone  from  the  room. 

Sitting  there  alone  in  the  forsaken 
dining-room,  unconsciously  pressing  the  hands 
lying  in  her  lap,  tightly  together,  she  was  seized 



by  a  convulsion  of  shivering.  For,  to  her,  there 
had  been  something  ominous  in  the  scene  that 
she  had  just  had  with  her  husband.  Over  and 
over  in  her  mind  his  last  words:  "Don't  expect 
me  to  give  up  everything,"  repeated  themselves. 
What  had  they  meant?  What  could  they  mean? 
Clare  Kendry? 

Surely,  she  was  going  mad  with  fear 
and  suspicion.  She  must  not  work  herself  up. 
She  must  not !  Where  were  all  the  self-control, 
the  common  sense,  that  she  was  so  proud  of? 
Now,  if  ever,  was  the  time  for  it. 

Clare  would  soon  be  there.  She  must 
hurry  or  she  would  be  late  again,  and  those  two 
would  wait  for  her  downstairs  together,  as  they 
had  done  so  often  since  that  first  time,  which 
now  seemed  so  long  ago.  Had  it  been  really 
only  last  October?  Why,  she  felt  years,  not 
months,  older. 

Drearily  she  rose  from  her  chair  and 
went  upstairs  to  set  about  the  business  of  dress- 
ing to  go  out  when  she  would  far  rather  have 
remained  at  home.  During  the  process  she  won- 
dered, for  the  hundredth  time,  why  she  hadn't 



told  Brian  about  herself  and  Fellse  running 
into  Bellew  the  day  before,  and  for  the  hun- 
dredth time  she  turned  away  from  acknowledg- 
ing to  herself  the  real  reason  for  keeping  back 
the  information. 

When  Clare  arrived,  radiant  in  a  shin- 
ing red  gown,  Irene  had  not  finished  dressing. 
But  her  smile  scarcely  hesitated  as  she  greeted 
her,  saying:  ''I  always  seem  to  keep  C.  P.  time, 
don't  I?  We  hardly  expected  you  to  be  able  to 
come.  Felise  will  be  pleased.  How  nice  you 

Clare  kissed  a  bare  shoulder,  seeming 
not  to  notice  a  slight  shrinking. 

"I  hadn't  an  idea  in  the  world,  myself, 
that  I'd  be  able  to  make  it;  but  Jack  had  to 
run  down  to  Philadelphia  unexpectedly.  So  here 
I  am." 

Irene  looked  up,  a  flood  of  speech  on 
her  lips.  "Philadelphia.  That's  not  very  far,  is 
it?  Clare,  I—?" 

She  stopped,  one  of  her  hands  clutch- 
ing the  side  of  her  stool,  the  other  lying 
clenched  on  the  dressing-table.  Why  didn't  she 



go  on  and  tell  Clare  about  meeting  Bellew? 
Why  couldn't  she? 

But  Clare  didn't  notice  the  unfinished 
sentence.  She  laughed  and  said  lightly:  "It's  far 
enough  for  me.  Anywhere,  away  from  me,  is 
far  enough.  I'm  not  particular." 

Irene  passed  a  hand  over  her  eyes  to 
shut  out  the  accusing  face  in  the  glass  before 
her.  With  one  corner  of  her  mind  she  wondered 
how  long  she  had  looked  like  that,  drawn  and 
haggard  and — yes,  frightened.  Or  was  it  only 

"Clare,"  she  asked,  "have  you  ever  seri- 
ously thought  what  It  would  mean  If  he  should 
find  you  out?" 
,        "Yes." 

"Oh!  You  have!  And  what  you'd  do  In 
that  case?" 

"Yes."  And  having  said  it,  Clare  Ken- 
dry  smiled  quickly,  a  smile  that  came  and  went 
like  a  flash,  leaving  untouched  the  gravity  of 
her  face. 

That  smile  and  the  quiet  resolution  of 


that  one  word,  ''yes,"  filled  Irene  with  a 
primitive  paralysing  dread.  Her  hands  were 
numb,  her  feet  like  ice,  her  heart  like  a  stone 
weight.  Even  her  tongue  was  like  a  heavy 
dying  thing.  There  were  long  spaces  between 
the  words  as  she  asked:  "And  what  should 
you  do?" 

Clare,  who  was  sunk  in  a  deep  chair,  her 
eyes  far  away,  seemed  wrapped  in  some  pleas- 
ant impenetrable  reflection.  To  Irene,  sitting  ex- 
pectantly upright,  it  was  an  interminable  time 
before  she  dragged  herself  back  to  the  present 
to  say  calmly:  'Td  do  what  I  want  to  do  more 
than  anything  else  right  now.  I'd  come  up  here 
to  live.  Harlem,  I  mean.  Then  I'd  be  able  to  do 
as  I  please,  when  I  please." 

Irene  leaned  forward,  cold  and  tense. 
''And  what  about  Margery?"  Her  voice  was  a 
strained  whisper. 

"Margery?"  Clare  repeated,  letting  her 
eyes  flutter  over  Irene's  concerned  face.  "Just 
this,  'Rene.  If  It  wasn't  for  her,  I'd  do  it  any- 
way.  She's  all  that  holds  me  back.  But  if  Jack 



finds  out,  if  our  marriage  is  broken,  that  lets 
me  out.  Doesn't  it?" 

Her  gentle  resigned  tone,  her  air  of  in- 
nocent candour,  appeared,  to  her  listener,  spuri- 
ous. A  conviction  that  the  words  were  intended 
as  a  warning  took  possession  of  Irene.  She  re- 
membered that  Clare  Kendry  had  always 
seemed  to  know  what  other  people  were  think- 
ing. Her  compressed  lips  grew  firm  and  ob- 
durate. Well,  she  wouldn't  know  this  time. 

She  said:  "Do  go  downstairs  and  talk 
to  Brian.  He's  got  a  mad  on." 

Though  she  had  determined  that  Clare 
should  not  get  at  her  thoughts  and  fears,  the 
words  had  sprung,  unthought  of,  to  her  lips.  It 
was  as  if  they  had  come  from  some  outer  layer 
of  callousness  that  had  no  relation  to  her  tor- 
tured heart.  And  they  had  been,  she  realized, 
precisely  the  right  words  for  her  purpose. 

For  as  Clare  got  up  and  went  out,  she 
saw  that  that  arrangement  was  as  good  as  her 
first  plan  of  keeping  her  waiting  up  there  while 
she  dressed — or  better.  She  would  only  have 



hindered  and  rasped  her.  And  what  matter  if 
those  two  spent  one  hour,  more  or  less,  alone 
together,  one  or  many,  now  that  everything  had 
happened  between  them? 

Ah !  The  first  time  that  she  had  allowed 
herself  to  admit  to  herself  that  everything  had 
happened,  had  not  forced  herself  to  believe,  to 
hope,  that  nothing  irrevocable  had  been  con- 
summated !  Well,  it  had  happened.  She  knew  it, 
and  knew  that  she  knew  it. 

She  was  surprised  that,  having  thought 
the  thought,  conceded  the  fact,  she  was  no 
more  hurt,  cared  no  more,  than  during  her  pre- 
vious frenzied  endeavours  to  escape  it.  And  this 
absence  of  acute,  unbearable  pain  seemed  to  her 
unjust,  as  If  she  had  been  denied  some  exquisite 
solace  of  suffering  which  the  full  acknowledg- 
ment should  have  given  her. 

Was  it,  perhaps,  that  she  had  endured 
all  that  a  woman  could  endure  of  tormenting 
humiliation  and  fear?  Or  was  it  that  she 
lacked  the  capacity  for  the  acme  of  suffering? 
*'No,    no!'^   she    denied   fiercely.    "I'm   human 



like  everybody  else.  It's  just  that  rm  so  tired, 
so  worn  out,  I  can't  feel  any  more."  But  she 
did  not  really  believe  that. 

Security.  Was  It  just  a  word?  If  not, 
then  was  It  only  by  the  sacrifice  of  other  things, 
happiness,  love,  or  some  wild  ecstasy  that  she 
had  never  known,  that  It  could  be  obtained? 
And  did  too  much  striving,  too  much  faith  In 
safety  and  permanence,  unfit  one  for  these 
other  things? 

Irene  didn't  know,  couldn't  decide, 
though  for  a  long  time  she  sat  questioning  and 
trying  to  understand.  Yet  all  the  while.  In  spite 
of  her  searchlngs  and  feeling  of  frustration, 
she  was  aware  that,  to  her,  security  was  the 
most  Important  and  desired  thing  In  life.  Not 
for  any  of  the  others,  or  for  all  of  them, 
would  she  exchange  it.  She  wanted  only  to  be 
tranquil.  Only,  unmolested,  to  be  allowed  to 
direct  for  their  own  best  good  the  lives  of  her 
sons  and  her  husband. 

Now  that  she  had  relieved  herself  of 
what  was  almost  like  a  guilty  knowledge,  ad- 
mitted that  which  by  some  sixth  sense  she  had 



long  known,  she  could  again  reach  out  for 
plans.  Could  think  again  of  ways  to  keep  Brian 
by  her  side,  and  in  New  York.  For  she  would 
not  go  to  Brazil.  She  belonged  In  this  land  of 
rising  towers.  She  was  an  American.  She  grew 
from  this  soil,  and  she  would  not  be  uprooted. 
Not  even  because  of  Clare  Kendry,  or  a  hun- 
dred Clare  Kendrys. 

Brian,  too,  belonged  here.  His  duty  was 
to  her  and  to  his  boys. 

Strange,  that  she  couldn't  now  be  sure 
that  she  had  ever  truly  known  love.  Not  even 
for  Brian.  He  was  her  husband  and  the  father 
of  her  sons.  But  was  he  anything  more?  Had 
she  ever  wanted  or  tried  for  more  ?  In  that  hour 
she  thought  not. 

Nevertheless,  she  meant  to  keep  him. 
Her  freshly  painted  lips  narrowed  to  a  thin 
straight  line.  True,  she  had  left  off  trying  to 
believe  that  he  and  Clare  loved  and  yet  did  not 
love,  but  she  still  intended  to  hold  fast  to  the 
outer  shell  of  her  marriage,  to  keep  her  life 
fixed,  certain.  Brought  to  the  edge  of  distaste- 
ful reality,  her  fastidious  nature  did  not  recoil. 



Better,  far  better,  to  share  him  than  to  lose  him 
completely.  Oh,  she  could  close  her  eyes,  if 
need  be.  She  could  bear  it.  She  could  bear  any- 
thing. And  there  was  March  ahead.  March 
and  the  departure  of  Clare. 

Horribly  clear,  she  could  now  see  the 
reason  for  her  instinct  to  withhold — omit, 
rather — her  news  of  the  encounter  with  Bellew. 
If  Clare  was  freed,  anything  might  happen. 

She  paused  in  her  dressing,  seeing  with 
perfect  clearness  that  dark  truth  which  she  had 
from  that  first  October  afternoon  felt  about 
Clare  Kendry  and  of  which  Clare  herself  had 
once  warned  her — that  she  got  the  things  she 
wanted  because  she  met  the  great  condition  of 
conquest,  sacrifice.  If  she  wanted  Brian,  Clare 
wouldn't  revolt  from  the  lack  of  money  or 
place.  It  was  as  she  had  said,  only  Margery 
kept  her  from  throwing  all  that  away.  And  if 
things  were  taken  out  of  her  hands —  Even  if 
she  was  only  alarmed,  only  suspected  that  such 
a  thing  was  about  to  occur,  anything  might 
happen.  Anything. 

No !  At  all  costs,  Clare  was  not  to  know 


of  that  meeting  with  Bellew.  Nor  was  Brian. 
It  would  only  weaken  her  own  power  to  keep 

They  would  never  know  from  her  that 
he  was  on  his  way  to  suspecting  the  truth  about 
his  wife.  And  she  would  do  anything,  risk  any- 
thing, to  prevent  him  from  finding  out  that 
truth.  How  fortunate  that  she  had  obeyed  her 
Instinct  and  omitted  to  recognize  Bellew ! 

"Ever  go  up  to  the  sixth  floor,  Clare?" 
Brian  asked  as  he  stopped  the  car  and  got  out 
to  open  the  door  for  them. 

"Why,  of  course !  We're  on  the  seven- 

"I  mean,  did  you  ever  go  up  by  nigger- 

'That's  good!"  Clare  laughed.  "Ask 
'Rene.  My  father  was  a  janitor,  you  know.  In 
the  good  old  days  before  every  ramshackle  flat 
had  Its  elevator.  But  you  can't  mean  we've  got 
to  walk  up  ?  Not  here !" 

"Yes,  here.  And  Fellse  lives  at  the  very 
top,"  Irene  told  her. 



"What  on  earth  for?'' 

"I  beheve  she  claims  it  discourages  the 
casual  visitor." 

"And  she's  probably  right.  Hard  on 
herself,  though." 

Brian  said  "Yes,  a  bit.  But  she  says 
she'd  rather  be  dead  than  bored." 

"Oh,  a  garden!  And  how  lovely  with 
that  undisturbed  snow  I" 

"Yes,  Isn't  It?  But  keep  to  the  walk  with 
those  foolish  thin  shoes.  You  too,  Irene." 

Irene  walked  beside  them  on  the  cleared 
cement  path  that  split  the  whiteness  of  the 
courtyard  garden.  She  felt  a  something  In  the 
air,  something  that  had  been  between  those 
two  and  would  be  again.  It  was  like  a  live  thing 
pressing  against  her.  In  a  quick  furtive  glance 
she  saw  Clare  clinging  to  Brian's  other  arm. 
She  was  looking  at  him  with  that  provocative 
upward  glance  of  hers,  and  his  eyes  were  fas- 
tened on  her  face  with  what  seemed  to  Irene 
an  expression  of  wistful  eagerness. 

"It's  this  entrance,  I  believe,"  she  In- 
formed them  in  quite  her  ordinary  voice. 



''Mind,"  Brian  told  Clare,  "you  don't 
fall  by  the  wayside  before  the  fourth  floor. 
They  absolutely  refuse  to  carry  anyone  up  more 
than  the  last  two  flights." 

''Don't  be  silly!"  Irene  snapped. 

The  party  began  gaily. 

Dave  Freeland  was  at  his  best,  brilliant, 
crystal  clear,  and  sparkling.  Felise,  too,  was 
amusing,  and  not  so  sarcastic  as  usual,  because 
she  liked  the  dozen  or  so  guests  that  dotted 
the  long,  untidy  living-room.  Brian  was  witty, 
though,  Irene  noted,  his  remarks  were  some- 
what more  barbed  than  was  customary  even 
with  him.  And  there  was  Ralph  Hazelton, 
throwing  nonsensical  shining  things  into  the 
pool  of  talk,  which  the  others,  even  Clare, 
picked  up  and  flung  back  with  fresh  adornment. 

Only  Irene  wasn't  merry.  She  sat  almost 
silent,  smiling  now  and  then,  that  she  might 
appear  amused. 

"What's  the  matter,  Irene?"  someone 
asked.  "Taken  a  vow  never  to  laugh,  or  some- 
thing? You're  as  sober  as  a  judge." 



*  "No.  It's  simply  that  the  rest  of  you  are 
so  clever  that  I'm  speechless,  absolutely 

"No  wonder,"  Dave  Freeland  re- 
marked, "that  you're  on  the  verge  of  tears.  You 
haven't  a  drink.  What'll  you  take?" 

"Thanks.  If  I  must  take  something, 
make  It  a  glass  of  ginger-ale  and  three  drops  of 
Scotch.  The  Scotch  first,  please.  Then  the  ice, 
then  the  ginger  ale." 

"Heavens!  Don't  attempt  to  mix  that 
yourself,  Dave  darling.  Have  the  butler  in," 
Fellse  mocked. 

"Yes,  do.  And  the  footman."  Irene 
laughed  a  little,  then  said:  "It  seems  dread- 
fully warm  in  here.  Mind  if  I  open  this  win- 
dow?" With  that  she  pushed  open  one  of  the 
long  casement-windows  of  which  the  Freelands 
were  so  proud. 

It  had  stopped  snowing  some  two  or 
three  hours  back.  The  moon  was  just  rising,  and 
far  behind  the  tall  buildings  a  few  stars  were 
creeping  out.  Irene  finished  her  cigarette  and 



threw  It  out,  watching  the  tiny  spark  drop 
slowly  down  to  the  white  ground  below. 

Someone  in  the  room  had  turned  on  the 
phonograph.  Or  was  it  the  radio?  She  didn't 
know  which  she  disliked  more.  And  nobody  was 
listening  to  its  blare.  The  talking,  the  laughter 
never  for  a  minute  ceased.  Why  must  they  have 
more  noise? 

Dave  came  with  her  drink.  "You  ought 
not,"  he  told  her,  "to  stand  there  like  that. 
You'll  take  cold.  Come  along  and  talk  to  me,  or 
listen  to  me  gabble."  Taking  her  arm,  he  led 
her  across  the  room.  They  had  just  found  seats 
when  the  door-bell  rang  and  Felise  called  over 
to  him  to  go  and  answer  it. 

In  the  next  moment  Irene  heard  his 
voice  in  the  hall,  carelessly  polite:  "Your  wife? 
Sorry.  I'm  afraid  you're  wrong.  Perhaps 
next — " 

Then  the  roar  of  John  Bellew's  voice 
above  all  the  other  noises  of  the  room:  "I'm 
not  wrong!  I've  been  to  the  Redfields  and  I 
know  she's  with  them.  You'd  better  stand  out 



of  my  way  and  save  yourself  trouble  in  the 

"What  is  it,  Dave?"  Felise  ran  out  to 
the  door. 

And  so  did  Brian.  Irene  heard  him  say- 
ing: "I'm  Redfield.  What  the  devil's  the  matter 
with  you?" 

But  Bellew  didn't  heed  him.  He  pushed 
past  them  all  into  the  room  and  strode  towards 
Clare.  They  all  looked  at  her  as  she  got  up 
from  her  chair,  backing  a  little  from  his  ap- 

"So  you're  a  nigger,  a  damned  dirty 
nigger!"  His  voice  was  a  snarl  and  a  moan,  an 
expression  of  rage  and  of  pain. 

Everything  was  in  confusion.  The  men  had 
sprung  forward.  Felise  had  leapt  between  them 
and  Bellew.  She  said  quickly:  "Careful.  You're 
the  only  white  man  here."  And  the  silver  chill 
of  her  voice,  as  well  as  her  words,  was  a  warn- 

Clare  stood  at  the  window,  as  composed 
as  if  everyone  were  not  staring  at  her  in  curi- 
osity and  wonder,  as  if  the  whole  structure  of 



her  life  were  not  lying  In  fragments  before  her. 
She  seemed  unaware  of  any  danger  or  uncaring. 
There  was  even  a  faint  smile  on  her  full,  red 
lips,  and  in  her  shining  eyes. 

It  was  that  smile  that  maddened  Irene. 
She  ran  across  the  room,  her  terror  tinged  with 
ferocity,  and  laid  a  hand  on  Clare's  bare  arm. 
One  thought  possessed  her.  She  couldn't  have 
Clare  Kendry  cast  aside  by  Bellew.  She  couldn't 
have  her  free. 

Before  them  stood  John  Bellew,  speech- 
less now  in  his  hurt  and  anger.  Beyond  them 
the  little  huddle  of  other  people,  and  Brian 
stepping  out  from  among  them. 

What  happened  next,  Irene  Redfield 
never  afterwards  allowed  herself  to  remember. 
Never  clearly. 

One  moment  Clare  had  been  there,  a 
vital  glowing  thing,  like  a  flame  of  red  and 
gold.  The  next  she  was  gone. 

There  was  a  gasp  of  horror,  and  above 
it  a  sound  not  quite  human,  like  a  beast  In 
agony.  "Nig!  My  God!  Nig!" 

A  frenzied  rush  of  feet  down  long 


flights  of  stairs.  The  slamming  of  distant  doors. 

Irene  stayed  behind.  She  sat  down  and 
remained  quite  still,  staring  at  a  ridiculous 
Japanese  print  on  the  wall  across  the  room. 

Gone !  The  soft  white  face,  the  bright 
hair,  the  disturbing  scarlet  mouth,  the  dream- 
ing eyes,  the  caressing  smile,  the  whole  tortur- 
ing loveliness  that  had  been  Clare  Kendry.  That 
beauty  that  had  torn  at  Irene's  placid  Hfe. 
Gone!  The  mocking  daring,  the  gallantry  of 
her  pose,  the  ringing  bells  of  her  laughter. 

Irene  wasn't  sorry.  She  was  amazed,  in- 
credulous almost. 

What  would  the  others  think?  That 
Clare  had  fallen?  That  she  had  deliberately 
leaned  backward?  Certainly  one  or  the  other. 

But  she  mustn't,  she  warned  herself, 
think  of  that.  She  was  too  tired,  and  too 
shocked.  And,  indeed,  both  were  true.  She  was 
utterly  weary,  and  she  was  violently  staggered. 
But  her  thoughts  reeled  on.  If  only  she  could 
be   as   free   of  mental  as  she  was   of  bodily 



vigour;  could  only  put  from  her  memory  the 
vision  of  her  hand  on  Clare's  arm ! 

^'It  was  an  accident,  a  terrible  accident," 
she  muttered  fiercely.  "It  wasT 

People  were  coming  up  the  stairs. 
Through  the  still  open  door  their  steps  and 
talk  sounded  nearer,  nearer. 

Quickly  she  stood  up  and  went  noise- 
lessly into  the  bedroom  and  closed  the  door 
softly  behind  her. 

Her  thoughts  raced.  Ought  she  to  have 
stayed?  Should  she  go  back  out  there  to  them? 
But  there  would  be  questions.  She  hadn't 
thought  of  them,  of  afterwards,  of  this.  She 
had  thought  of  nothing  in  that  sudden  moment 
of  action. 

It  was  cold.  Icy  chills  ran  up  her  spine 
and  over  her  bare  neck  and  shoulders. 

In  the  room  outside  there  were  voices. 
Dave  Freeland's  and  others  that  she  did  not 

Should  she  put  on  her  coat?  Felise  had 
rushed  down  without  any  wrap.  So  had  all  the 
others.  So  had  Brian.  Brian!  He  mustn't  take 



cold.  She  took  up  his  coat  and  left  her  own.  At 
the  door  she  paused  for  a  moment,  listening 
fearfully.  She  heard  nothing.  No  voices.  No 
footsteps.  Very  slowly  she  opened  the  door. 
The  room  was  empty.  She  went  out. 

In  the  hall  below  she  heard  dimly  the 
sound  of  feet  going  down  the  steps,  of  a  door 
being  opened  and  closed,  and  of  voices  far 

Down,  down,  down,  she  went,  Brian's 
great  coat  clutched  in  her  shivering  arms  and 
trailing  a  little  on  each  step  behind  her. 

What  was  she  to  say  to  them  when  at 
last  she  had  finished  going  down  those  endless 
stairs?  She  should  have  rushed  out  when  they 
did.  What  reason  could  she  give  for  her  dally- 
ing behind?  Even  she  didn't  know  why  she  had 
done  that.  And  what  else  would  she  be  asked? 
There  had  been  her  hand  reaching  out  towards 
Clare.  What  about  that? 

In  the  midst  of  her  wonderings  and 
questionings  came  a  thought  so  terrifying,  so 
horrible,  that  she  had  had  to  grasp  hold  of  the 
banister  to  save  herself  from  pitching  down- 



wards.  A  cold  perspiration  drenched  her  shak- 
ing body.  Her  breath  caipe  short  in  sharp  and 
painful  gasps. 

What  if  Clare  was  not  dead? 

She  felt  nauseated,  as  much  at  the  idea 
of  the  glorious  body  mutilated  as  from  fear. 

How  she  managed  to  make  the  rest  of 
the  journey  without  fainting  she  never  knew. 
But  at  last  she  was  down.  Just  at  the  bottom 
she  came  on  the  others,  surrounded  by  a  little 
circle  of  strangers.  They  were  all  speaking  in 
whispers,  or  in  the  awed,  discreetly  lowered 
tones  adapted  to  the  presence  of  disaster.  In 
the  first  instant  she  wanted  to  turn  and  rush 
back  up  the  way  she  had  come.  Then  a  calm 
desperation  came  over  her.  She  braced  herself, 
physically  and  mentally. 

"Here's  Irene  now,"  Dave  Freeland 
announced,  and  told  her  that,  having  only  just 
missed  her,  they  had  concluded  that  she  had 
fainted  or  something  like  that,  and  were  on  the 
way  to  find  out  about  her.  Felise,  she  saw,  was 
holding  on  to  his  arm,  all  the  insolent  non- 
chalance gone  out  of  her,  and  the  golden  brown 



of  her  handsome  face  changed  to  a  queer  mauve 

Irene  made  no  Indication  that  she  had 
heard  Freeland,  but  went  straight  to  Brian.  His 
face  looked  aged  and  altered,  and  his  lips  were 
purple  and  trembling.  She  had  a  great  longing 
to  comfort  him,  to  charm  away  his  suffering 
and  horror.  But  she  was  helpless,  having 
so  completely  lost  control  of  his  mind  and 

She  stammered:  *'Is  she — is  she — ?" 

It  was  Felise  who  answered.  "Instantly, 
we  think." 

f^  Irene  struggled  against  the  sob  of 
[thankfulness  that  rose  in  her  throat.  Choked 
down,  it  turned  to  a  whimper,  like  a  hurt 
child's.  Someone  laid  a  hand  on  her  shoulder  in 
a  soothing  gesture.  Brian  wrapped  his  coat 
about  her.  She  began  to  cry  rackingly,  her  en- 
tire body  heaving  with  convulsive  sobs.  He 
made  a  slight  perfunctory  attempt  to  comfort 

"There,    there,    Irene.    You    mustn't. 


You'll  make  yourself  sick.  She's — "  His  voice 
broke  suddenly. 

As  from  a  long  distance  she  heard 
Ralph  Hazelton's  voice  saying:  "I  was  look- 
ing right  at  her.  She  just  tumbled  over  and  was 
gone  before  you  could  say  'Jack  Robinson.' 
Fainted,  I  guess.  Lord!  It  was  quick.  Quickest 
thing  I  ever  saw  in  all  my  life." 

"It's  impossible,  I  tell  you  I  Absolutely 
impossible !" 

It  was  Brian  who  spoke  in  that  frenzied 
hoarse  voice,  which  Irene  had  never  heard  be- 
fore. Her  knees  quaked  under  her. 

Dave  Freeland  said:  "J^st  a  minute, 
Brian.  Irene  was  there  beside  her.  Let's  hear 
what  she  has  to  say." 

She  had  a  moment  of  stark  craven  fear. 
*'0h  God,"  she  thought,  prayed,  "help  me." 

A  strange  man,  official  and  authorita- 
tive, addressed  her.  "You're  sure  she  fell?  Her 
husband  didn't  give  her  a  shove  or  anything 
like  that,  as  Dr.  Redfield  seems  to  think?" 

For  the  first  time  she  was  aware  that 


Bellew  was  not  in  the  little  group  shivering  In 
the  small  hallway.  What  did  that  mean?  As  she 
began  to  work  it  out  in  her  numbed  mind,  she 
was  shaken  with  another  hideous  trembling. 
Not  that!  Oh,  not  that! 

"No,  no!"  she  protested.  ^Tm  quite 
certain  that  he  didn't.  I  was  there,  too.  As  close 
as  he  was.  She  just  fell,  before  anybody  could 
stop  her.  I — " 

Her  quaking  knees  gave  way  under  her. 
She  moaned  and  sank  down,  moaned  again. 
Through  the  great  heaviness  that  submerged 
and  drowned  her  she  was  dimly  conscious  of 
strong  arms  lifting  her  up.  Then  everything 
was  dark. 

Centuries  after,  she  heard  the  strange 
man  saying:  'JDeath  by  misadventure,  I'm  In- 
clined to  believe.  Let's  go  up  and  have  another 
look  at  that  window." 

A   NOTE    ON   THE   TYPE 

1  HIS  book  has  been  set  in  a  modern  adaptation  of 
a  type  designed  by  PVilliam  Caslon,  the  first  {l6g2- 
1766),  who,  it  is  generally  conceded,  brought  the 
old-style  letter  to  its  highest  perfection. 

An  artistic,  easily-read  type,  Caslon  has  had  two 
centuries  of  ever-increasing  popularity  in  our  own 
country — //  is  of  interest  to  note  that  the  first  copies 
of  the  Declaration  of  Independence  and  the  first 
paper  currency  distributed  to  the  citizens  of  the 
new-born    nation    were   printed   in    this   type   face. 




BINGHAMTON,    N.    Y. 

PAPER    M  ADE    BY 

S.    D.     WARREN     CO.,     BOSTON 




University  of